Tax plan hurts higher education

To the editor:

The only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. The Trump administration is trying to make the latter a less stressful undertaking. While admirable on the surface, the current plan hurts everyone’s access to post-secondary education, including graduate students. Student loan payments will no longer be tax deductible. Neither will saving for your child’s college.

For the past year I have put myself through school working multiple jobs and taking out loans to pay for tuition and living expenses. Beginning in the spring I am a supported graduate student, which means I will be working as a teaching assistant, taking classes and doing research. In exchange, I will earn a small stipend and a tuition waiver. While the work load seems like a lot, it’s quite standard and I’m grateful that I will no longer have to take out loans, wait tables, and work odd jobs on top of everything else in order to afford my education.

Under the proposed tax plan, my annual income would go from roughly $19,700 (stipend only) to roughly $40,200 (stipend and tuition waiver), substantially increasing my tax burden.

I am one of many supported graduate students who is not independently wealthy. Many of us are simply unable to afford to pay thousands more in taxes on money that is never in our pockets. Last year, when the administration introduced the immigration ban, universities across the country, including Michigan Tech, immediately recognized the negative effects this would have on research and publicly spoke out against the ban. Finlandia and Michigan Tech are important to the community that I’m glad to be a part of. But I have yet to see the concern about the future of science and research we did when the immigration ban was proposed. It leaves me wondering if my colleagues are as concerned about this as I am. I’m writing a letter to Congressman Bergman to let him know about how this tax bill would hurt me; I hope you will do the same.