UL: Tax Reform Bill could devastate graduate students

State budget cuts threaten the viability of public colleges and universities and could mean, among other things, higher tuition and fees. (Photo: File photo)

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- Students and staff of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Graduate School are worried that U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may have a severe impact to the program and students’ livelihoods.

Mary Farmer-Kaiser, Dean of the UL Lafayette Graduate School, spoke with KLFY on Friday about the department’s concerns about the legislation.

On Thursday, the university’s Graduate Students Organization held a forum to discuss the Tax Bills that have been introduced in the U.S. Congress in recent weeks.

The problem, they say, is the legislation will eliminate the deduction for qualified tuition waivers and employer-paid education expenses.

About 40 percent of the graduate students enrolled at UL, (approximately 650 out of 1631 students), would be affected if the current bill is signed into law.

According to the university, Ph.D. students receive a salary stipend of $15,000 and Master’s student receives a $9,500 stipend, which requires students to work 20 hours a week, take a full-time course load and conduct original research.

The new bill would consider these stipends as “taxable income”. The university said the tax burden for Ph.D. teaching students and research assistants could skyrocket to 326 percent, about  $460 to $1,497.36.

For Master’s students, the tax increase would go from $0 to $837.36.

Those opposing the bill are urging citizens to contact U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, and U.S.Congressman Clay Higgins.


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