Statement on Tax Reform

Dean Jeitschko

Dean Jeitschko statement:

I want to take this opportunity to address the considerable anxiety and uncertainty around recently proposed tax changes that could have a significant impact on our academic community. Some of these changes could impact you and your family and I want you to know that I share these concerns. Our university Governmental Affairs representatives in Washington, D.C., are heavily engaged in fighting on behalf of your interests and the broader higher-education community.

As you may know, legislators are currently debating the most sweeping changes to our federal tax code in a generation. While the impacts of the proposals are far-reaching – and as many of you have expressed to me directly – we are acutely concerned with a number of proposed changes that would affect students and their families. Of particular concern to the Graduate School is university-provided, tax-free tuition waivers for graduate students, also known as 117 (d)(5) waivers. I recognize that most graduate students are already living on a very tight budget, so the thought of potentially adding thousands of dollars in new taxes to your budget is hard to contemplate and would create a tremendous immediate hardship and have further adverse implications for us in years to come.

With that said, I also want to be sure we are all aware that there is broad pushback on this particular proposal from many different areas. Currently, there are two different tax bills under consideration: one in the U.S. House of Representatives and one in the Senate. The tuition waiver changes are included in the House bill, which passed Thursday. However, the waiver proposal is not in the Senate’s tax reform proposal. This is very important to recognize, as our federal relations representatives have indicated the Senate has not shown any interest thus far in agreeing to change the tax treatment of tuition waivers or other higher education benefits that affect students and their families. And, they also have shared that despite this language being included in the House-passed bill, key members of Congress who wrote the tax bill have publicly stated they will work to remove the provision once the bill comes back to them from the Senate.

In order for a bill to become a law, both the House and Senate must pass the same bill before it goes to the President. So we still have time to call our members of Congress to tell them not to unfairly tax your tuition waiver. I want to reiterate that our Governmental Affairs team in Washington will continue to fight for these benefits and other priorities, in coordination with national higher education associations and other university federal relations representatives.

Thank you.