Keep grad tuition waivers tax free

To the editor:

There are over 1,400 graduate students at Michigan Tech, working hard to become part of America’s next generation of engineers, scientists, and innovators. However, their ability to pursue a higher-level education would be dramatically impacted by the GOP tax overhaul bill.

Graduate students receive a small stipend to live on, and their significant tuition fees are waived in return for the work they do at the university, such as teaching and assisting professors with research. The House version of the GOP tax bill would do away with the tuition waiver and treat it as taxable income, even though students never actually receive this money. A typical student would see their taxes double or triple, while their take-home income would remain the same. This would make pursuing a graduate-level education much less affordable, meaning that thousands of America’s brightest students would not take this next step in their education. 

The US currently has 2.4 million unfilled positions in the STEM fields that are critical to the country’s technological and economic progress. Congress should be encouraging our young people to receive the education they need to fill these positions, not driving them away from higher education with an unaffordable tax bill.

From a local perspective, Michigan Tech is our region’s largest employer. A loss of hundreds of students in our community would have an alarming economic impact on the university and hence on our local area as a whole.

Call Congressman Jack Bergman’s office at 273-2227 demanding that he vote to keep graduate tuition waivers tax free and maintain the economic viability of Michigan Tech and the Keweenaw.