GOP tax bill passes Senate in late-night vote, possibly increasing costs for students

Depending on how the House and Senate reconcile their differences, the bill could increase the tax burden for students

The Senate narrowly passed the Republican-backed tax reform bill early Saturday morning, creating uncertainty about how sweeping tax reform might impact college and graduate students. 

The House bill, which passed on Nov. 16, had stipulations that took away tax breaks for graduate students and counted tuition reduction as taxable income, as well as removing the popular student loan debt deduction. The Senate bill deviated from the House version on several key issues, including this one, meaning the bill will now go to a bipartisan conference committee to smooth out the differences. 

If the version of the bill to reach the president's desk includes the language concerning students, it could potentially increase the taxes of graduate students by 300 percent. 

Read More: ASU administration seeking changes to GOP tax bill over grad student concerns

Samantha Hernandez, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association at ASU, went to Washington, D.C. to encourage representatives to oppose the bill. She said she spoke with members of the House Ways and Means Committee about her concerns with the tax reform effort. 

According to Hernandez, waiver cuts and course reductions for graduate students would save $5 billion over 10 years if the tax bill is passed – however, she said, "When you think about the savings they are receiving from other programs, it's nothing."

The tax bill seemed in jeopardy as late as Friday, as several key Republican senators had expressed concerns with the bill. 

But on Thursday, Nov. 30, Republican Sen. John McCain announced he would support the Senate tax bill, and on Dec. 1, Sen. Jeff Flake said he would do the same, after assurance from GOP colleagues that they would support a legislative replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  


"We all signed on to graduate school not thinking that this was in jeopardy or that we would have to pay extra taxes on what we're already paying," said Alyssa Sherry, a fourth year doctoral student studying chemistry. 


Reach the reporter at cbudnies@asu.edu or follow @ChaseHBudnies on Twitter.

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