November 19, 2017

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Here's How The New Tax Plan Could Hurt Graduate Students

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Enlarge this image Hanna Barczyk for NPR

The new tax plan, introduced by House Republicans, could have negative implications on universities, graduate students and those with student loans.

Many grad students — especially in Ph.D. programs — receive tuition waivers in exchange for teaching classes or doing research. Under current law, that money isn’t taxed as income. But the new bill calls for those tuition waivers to be counted as income and be subjected to income taxes.

That means graduate students would be paying taxes on money they never receive.

Kelly Balmes is finishing up a master’s degree — on her way to a Ph.D. — in Atmosphere and Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Balmes, 24, is from Chicago — so her out-of-state tuition is $30,000 a year. It’s paid for through grants; money she never sees.

The University pays her a yearly stipend of about $30,000 in exchange for her work in research and as a teaching assistant. That’s considered minimum wage in Seattle — about $15/hour.

In 2016, she paid income taxes on her teaching stipend and she ended up owing the government $2,334.

If the

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