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The Republican Tax Bill Won’t Screw Over Grad Students After All

Republicans have reportedly decided that taxing Ph.D. students in order to fund cuts for corporations and wealthy business owners is a bad idea after all.

According to Bloomberg, the final tax deal emerging from the GOP’s conference committee will not include a tax on graduate school tuition waivers, which many in academia had warned could be devastating, particularly in the sciences.

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Under a proposal in the House bill, the IRS would have begun taxing the tuition waivers that universities commonly award to Ph.D. students who also work as teaching and research assistants, in some cases adding many thousands of dollars to their tax liabilities. Today, the tuition breaks are not treated as income and are thus tax free. The change would have affected 145,000 grad students, the majority in science disciplines, making it far less affordable for Americans to pursue advanced degrees in fields like biology or physics unless they were independently wealthy or willing to take on significantly more debt.

The potential blow to American science led to one of the loudest uproars of the tax debate, and the tuition tax was dropped from the Senate bill. Montana Sen. Steve Daines and an anonymous source told Bloomberg the provision would not be in the final conference committee bill that both houses will vote on. South Dakota’s Mike Rounds, meanwhile, is quoted by the news org saying that, “Folks who are in grad school will feel pretty good about the final result.”

That’s one small step for sanity, I guess.

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