Op-ed: Congress needs some schooling when it comes to tuition waivers

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  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Nov. 27, 2017 1:53 p.m.

    To "Frozen Fractals" so what the analysis shows is that the tax proposal would result in more locals getting into graduate programs because the increase in taxes is too much for people coming from out of state.

    I also noticed that the analysis does not mention Educational tax credits. Would those tax credits now be available to a grad student? If they are, then even a $4000 increase in taxes is eliminated via tax credits.

    If the increases in taxes are erased or nearly erased by tax credits, how does that change the analysis?

    I do question the analysis when predicting what will happen to enrollment levels at public and private universities. It is hard to predict what people are willing to do to get a graduate degree.

    The analysis seems to be a worst case scenario that only looked superficially at the US tax codes.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 27, 2017 1:18 p.m.

    @Redshirt
    Utah's Dean of Graduate Studies has posted analysis on it. The estimates are that the typical in-state Utah graduate student would be paying around 1,500 more a year in taxes while the typical out-of-state Utah graduate student (so like me my first couple years here before getting in-state residency) would be paying around 4,000 more a year in taxes. And Utah's one of the cheaper states for higher education so these numbers would be higher at many other universities across the country.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Nov. 27, 2017 9:55 a.m.

    If the Feds are going to consider tuition waivers as income does that mean you also qualify for the tuition tax credits?

    What I want to know is how will this alter their take home pay? While it sounds like a huge tax bump, what does this do to their final tax bill?

    One thing that I can see this doing is to get the grad students off the welfare rolls since many will no longer qualify for welfare. Some of the married grad students may have to ask their spouse to work to support them while pursuing their degrees.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    Nov. 27, 2017 9:48 a.m.

    If grad students were billionaires, the GOP would certainly give them some big tax breaks. Everyone knows that billionaires just can't seem to make ends meet.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Nov. 27, 2017 7:21 a.m.

    Denverite,

    Why do fancy schools charge so much, same reason big pharma does. Because they can. The student much like the person needing the drug has little choice but to pay.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 26, 2017 10:58 p.m.

    Why keep it to waivers for graduate school tuition. Why not also include athletic scholarships. A bet the red state Congressmen would be very fond of that idea.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 26, 2017 12:57 p.m.

    @Denverite
    "Why does MIT (or any other fancy school) charge so much for grad degrees? One reason is, the current system allows them to and forces students to work like dogs *and* assume gazillions in debt for the "privilege."

    Suppose tuition waivers, and all other forms of support for grad students, were taxed. Over time, MIT would have fewer people applying because they're less willing to assume the financial burden. Once MIT has few enough people applying, and some of their staff face layoffs (which is what it would take for anything to change), smart people there would figure out a way to reduce the cost of their degree. This would cause more people to apply , and so on."

    This isn't undergraduate study. Graduate program tuition waivers means you aren't paying for tuition so none of that "gazillions of debt" stuff is applicable for these. They're getting stipends too to work on graduate research. I paid off my student loans in grad school at the U. For me this change wouldn't have stopped me from going to grad school but with 13,000 more in taxes over the years I'd have about 10k in student loans at this point instead of 0.

  • cthulhu_fhtagn Seattle, WA
    Nov. 26, 2017 12:37 p.m.

    Ah yes, let's lighten the burden of the wealthiest among us and place it on our students. Good old GOP values. Salt of the earth.

  • Denverite Centennial, CO
    Nov. 25, 2017 1:14 p.m.

    I sympathize with those who would have the rules changed on them mid-stream. That would stink, and if I were in the writer's position, especially at a fancy school, I would be really unhappy too.

    However, taxing tuition waivers may allow the free market to, over time, improve the situation.

    Why does MIT (or any other fancy school) charge so much for grad degrees? One reason is, the current system allows them to and forces students to work like dogs *and* assume gazillions in debt for the "privilege."

    Suppose tuition waivers, and all other forms of support for grad students, were taxed. Over time, MIT would have fewer people applying because they're less willing to assume the financial burden. Once MIT has few enough people applying, and some of their staff face layoffs (which is what it would take for anything to change), smart people there would figure out a way to reduce the cost of their degree. This would cause more people to apply , and so on.

    To really make it interesting, and reduce some health-care cost indirectly, I would get rid of all federal loans for degrees beyond a bachelor's. Medical schools would get a lot cheaper in a very short time, for the same reason.

  • hbeckett Colfax, CA
    Nov. 25, 2017 12:53 p.m.

    it would seem that the US congressional leaders need to attend economics 101 classes

  • smm9 Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 25, 2017 9:49 a.m.

    Mr. Hill is right; this would be disastrous for students and for Utah. Public universities, like the University of Utah, don't have the funds to offset these tax increases. As a result, either they will have to accept fewer students and pay them more, or do nothing, and fewer students will have the means to enter grad school. This would be terrible for Utah in particular, which has the fastest growing STEM job sector in the country. Who is going to fill those jobs when STEM education crashes?

  • Allen C Christensen American Fork, UT
    Nov. 25, 2017 6:35 a.m.

    The Congress is desperate to balance the budget and well it should be. However, taxing tuition waivers is absolute foolishness. Most graduate students struggle financially to get through school. Most do not come from affluent families. In my experience, we had to pay taxes on the monthly living allowance or assistantship the university provided. We lived in marginal housing. Spouses and children joined in the sacrifice to successfully get the degree. Most of us would not have been in the PhD program in the first place should we have faced an income tax obligation on the tuition waiver. Universities have become, in many instances, an engine of economic development for the region in which they are located. Why would we want to shut that down?

    Rather than attempt to increase tax revenue by counterproductive means, why not cut the government's need for money ? Begin by reducing all facets of governmental expenditures except national defense by 25 percent. Use the funds saved to balance the budget and begin to make payments on the debt. There will be screams of anguish. However, we have indisputable evidence that you cannot borrow yourself into prosperity for the government has tried.

  • Copybook Headings Draper, UT
    Nov. 25, 2017 5:18 a.m.

    Well, MIT will have to pay him more. It's as simple as that. It's not like they don't have a ton of money.

  • Millenial Snow Sandy, UT
    Nov. 25, 2017 2:18 a.m.

    Investment income should also be taxed at a regular rate then.

    Oh! It isn't? Well, that makes it clear who this bill is really for.

    This bill was written by billionaires for billionaires.

  • SMcloud Sandy, UT
    Nov. 25, 2017 2:16 a.m.

    This is so wrong.

    Education and opportunities should not be attacked so that a billionaire who donated to legislators can pay fewer taxes.

    The GOP is desperate to pass a bill but nothing they want to do is popular because there simply aren't enough millionaires that vote.

  • JoelB44 Idaho Falls, ID
    Nov. 25, 2017 1:07 a.m.

    Sadly, it is evident to me that the lights have gone out in Congress, and in the Republican party also. As a life-long conservative, generally voting with Republicans, and glad to do so, their failure to govern in recent years, and especially NOW, has brought me to think that a new party is needed, OR many of the GOP need to get their heads out of someone else's bank account and GOVERN FOR THE PEOPLE, instead of the elite!

  • HSTucker Holladay, UT
    Nov. 24, 2017 6:46 p.m.

    Mr. Hill, thank you for your excellent and insightful analysis and good luck with your PhD. Hopefully this will get straightened out and you'll be able to enjoy many fruitful years in Kendall Square.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Nov. 24, 2017 3:43 p.m.

    Blame it on the way our money is backed. it is backed by debt. With every bebt , money can be printed. A bank barrows from a different bank an can print more money so there is no limit on the money that can be printed. In less no one barrows, at that point banks fail, and you as a unsecured lender lost all your savings.

  • geekusprimus Little Elm, TX
    Nov. 24, 2017 3:26 p.m.

    A question for members of Congress: how is a tuition waiver "taxable income?" Will students also be taxed on scholarships they receive? Will students attending an institution like Harvard receiving need-based aid to reduce the substantial tuition be forced to pay taxes on it (or see their parents taxed)?
    These waivers are not money students will ever see or earn; these are investments made by universities in an individual they believe is qualified to advance the mission of the school and their field of interest. These waivers are often paid back to the university in the form of patent royalties, recognition for excellent research, alumni donations, and academic prestige.
    If tuition waivers for Ph.D candidates are considered taxable income, then I suggest that our esteemed congressional representatives examine another source of potentially "taxable income" that will generate far more revenue than taxing a bunch of broke grad students: Social Security benefits. No? Too unpopular, you say? Then stop trying to pull a fast one on a target too small you deem too small to raise a strong enough outcry.

  • ErinKengaard Falls Church, VA
    Nov. 24, 2017 12:19 p.m.

    It seems that the GOP is desperate to pass any bill, so they can declare victory and move on.
    It's unfortunate that there isn't a desperation to cut expenses, rather than taxes.