Graduate Students Protest Tax Proposal For Tuition Assistance

Gita Kaw, a Case Western Reserve University student, hands out information about the House tax bill. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
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Graduate students aren’t happy with a proposal in the House tax bill that would hit those who receive tuition waivers. Case Western Reserve University students on joined in a protest on Wednesday coordinated with campuses nationwide.

Many grad students who work as teaching assistants or do other jobs for their schools can have their tuition waived. A House proposal would count that waiver as income, meaning higher taxes.

About 30 people gathered on campus to share scripts for calling senators and representatives to protest.

“Is it worth it? I don’t know, I’m not in that position right now,” said Sydney Brannoch, a biology Ph.D. student. “But I do know that if it happened tomorrow, I don’t know if I could afford it this year. It would be difficult to afford without applying for more student loans.”

Some at the event said this could hurt university research, which relies on the work of graduate and doctoral students.

Andrew Dupuis, a biomedical engineering PhD student, said it’s already difficult to save.

“My income through my stipend alone is enough to cover my expenses, and that’s pretty much it,” Dupuis said. “I can save about 3 to 5 percent of my income per year, but planning a wedding, planning a future, is really not very feasible, even on a current tuition scheme.”

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