Tuition waivers no longer considered taxable income as US Senate tax bill passes

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Yukun Zhang/File

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Graduate students may see relief from potential financial burden, as the U.S. Senate’s version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed without the graduate tuition tax proposal.

In the version of the bill proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives, tuition waivers — a resource that doctoral candidates can use to mitigate their cost of attendance — would have been considered taxable income.

On Dec. 2, the Senate passed a version of the bill that did not include the tax on tuition waivers, which has been a source of concern and controversy in universities across the country.

Graduate students responded to the House’s proposal with protests on Sproul Plaza, where they demonstrated against the financial strain that graduate students may have faced in light of the House bill.

“It’s 100 percent a huge win that our waived tuition is no longer on the table to be taxable,” said UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly President Kena Hazelwood-Carter. “But there (are) so many other things that could impact our ability to be here.”

Despite the victory, Hazelwood-Carter said there are still other potential threats to higher education costs to consider.

“The impact (of the bill) is so much more broad, and throwing something this big at America and providing so little opportunity for dialogue and discourse and dissection (is limiting),” Hazelwood-Carter said. “(We) miss the fact that an entirely different rug has been pulled out from under us.

Hazelwood-Carter added that the door of opportunity for higher education should be open for everyone.

Contact Mark Henry Salupen at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @salupen_markdc.