Tuition tax would hurt grad students

Tuition tax would hurt grad students

As expressed in several recent letters to the editor and an excellent article by News-Gazette reporter Julie Wurth, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed by the House on Nov. 16 poses a grave threat to higher education in this country generally, and to the Champaign-Urbana economy specifically.

I would like to echo these concerns with my own story:

I'm a graduate student in the physics department at the University of Illinois, making a little more than the university's reported living wage of $22,314/year for employees in my department. This is enough for me to live in this town, not to worry about where my next meal is coming from, and it is even enough to make modest payments on my student loans from my undergraduate education.

If this bill goes into effect and my tuition waiver ($18,056/year) becomes taxable income, I will no longer be able to attend the UI and live in Champaign-Urbana. I may no longer be able to attend graduate school anywhere, at least in this country.

Of course, the irony is lost on no one that the "Tax Cut and Jobs Act" would in fact raise taxes on our community and cut jobs in Champaign-Urbana.

What seems to be lost on Rep. Rodney Davis however, is that the passing of this bill means the forcing out of this country's most educated citizens, the forcing out of graduate workers in C-U, and the forcing out of his own constituents.