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AAAS Thanks Lawmakers Who Resisted Graduate Student Tax Hike

The Senate and House are on track to vote  the week of Dec. 18  on a final version of a tax overhaul bill that does not include tax provisions that would  have blunted higher education. | University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The American Association for the Advancement of Science applauded 73 House lawmakers Wednesday for fighting to keep out of a final tax overhaul measure provisions that would saddle graduate students with significant tax increases and damage the nation’s innovation economy.

Rush Holt, the chief executive officer of AAAS, thanked each of the House members, representing both parties, for signing letters to their respective leadership, urging them to resist efforts that would limit access to higher education by eliminating graduate tuition waivers.

“We too strongly oppose the repeal of the income exclusion for graduate tuition waivers,” wrote Holt in letters to the lawmakers. “We agree that targeting educational assistance would not only harm students, but adversely affect the United States innovation ecosystem.”

The proposal would have altered the tax status of tuition reductions granted to graduate students in exchange for teaching courses or conducting research while seeking graduate degrees, more than half of which are in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  

The provision is no longer expected to be included in the final version of the tax overhaul measure that the House and Senate are planning to vote on next week, according to media reports. Republican leaders reached an agreement on the latest version of the bill on Wednesday.   

AAAS and 67 scientific and engineering societies pressed tax bill negotiators in a Dec. 7 letter to keep out of the tax measure language that would newly classify graduate school tuition tax breaks as taxable income.

“Innovation starts with people and ideas, and the United States must nurture our future innovators rather than risk losing them altogether,” Holt said in letters sent to lawmakers. “Thank you again for your leadership on this issue, and AAAS stands ready as a resource to you and your office to advance science and serve society.”

[Associated image: Gouldy99/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)]