breaking news

'Stay off the roads,' snow and threat of ice linger

Georgia students say tax plan will hurt education


Georgia college students are mounting a campaign to remove a provision from the federal House Republican tax plan they fear will cause some students to drop out, cause a decline in scientific research productivity and hurt the local economy.

The House GOP plan would add a tax onto tuition waivers that graduate and doctoral students receive for research work they do on campus. A group of student leaders at several public Georgia campuses have drafted a letter they plan to send to the Georgia Board of Regents before its monthly meeting Wednesday that raises their concerns. Some plan to deliver their fears about the bill in person.

“Many current graduate students will be unable to afford this new tax, and would fail to finish their programs as a result…Universities would suddenly produce fewer graduates, and would be left with fewer instructors for undergraduate courses,” said a draft of the letter sent Monday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Nearly 50,000 graduate and professional students are currently enrolled in the University System of Georgia. Some students say they’ll have to take on more debt to continue their studies.

“I want to finish and I’m really worried about what impact it will have on graduate education,” said Vineet Tiruvadi, 30, a dual-degree student at Emory University and Georgia Tech.

Skanda Prasad, graduate student body president at Georgia Tech, said a significant loss of grad students could also impact undergraduate studies. Many grad students perform tasks, such as grading papers, and with fewer of them around “the quality of undergraduate education may suffer.”

Experts also say it could have an adverse impact on the local economy. For example, research done at Georgia State University during a recent 12-month stretch had an economic impact of about $400 million.

Campus leaders began discussing the potential impact of the tax change last week. It’s one of several provisions in the House bill that have raised concerns among educators on the college and k-12 level. Senate Republicans introduced its own tax plan last week. President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have made tax reform a primary goal this year, arguing the current system is too complicated, hurts U.S. businesses and that changes will boost the American economy.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, said he’s received hundreds of calls and messages from students worried about the entire bill. He’s similarly concerned about the legislation and hopes the students will continue to “make noise” about the bill.

“It’s mean. It’s heartless and it’s making it really impossible for graduate students to receive an education,” Lewis said in a telephone interview Monday.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a member of the senate’s finance committee, declined comment Monday, a spokeswoman said, adding he’ll talk about the proposals after the legislative process is completed. Emory University president Claire Sterk wrote Isakson last month outlining her concerns about the House tax plan.

Michael Snell, 26, a third-year doctoral psychology student at the University of Georgia, is one of the student leaders concerned about the tuition waiver provision. Snell receives about $13,000 over a 10-month period for his teaching assistant work.

Snell is particularly worried that many low-income and minority students will no longer afford to continue their academic careers if the proposed plan becomes law.

Elizabeth Minten, 24, president of the Laney Graduate Student Council at Emory University, also said the provision could hurt graduate students with families.

“It would be a major hit,” she said.

Here are some additional provisions in the House tax plan that have some educators and students worried:

  • a 1.4 percent tax on net investment income of schools with more than 500 students and assets of at least $100,000 per student.
  • elimination of a $250 educator expense deduction, which helps offset some costs of classroom materials.
  • removing current rules that allow up to $2,500 deduction on interest paid on student loans.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Metro Atlanta schools cancel classes as snow begins falling across region
Metro Atlanta schools cancel classes as snow begins falling across region

With snow accumulation of at least one inch expected in metro Atlanta, schools began cancelling classes late Tuesday night as a precaution. It’s the third time in just more than a month that metro Atlanta schools have closed due to weather. DeKalb and Fulton County Schools said in emails that students and staff should stay home ahead of forecasts...
Metro school districts calling it quits for Wednesday
Metro school districts calling it quits for Wednesday

School districts across metro Atlanta will be closed Wednesday due to biting temperatures and fears of icy roads. The DeKalb County School District announced first about 9:15 p.m., saying it will close Wednesday “due to frigid temperatures, snow and icy road conditions.” Shortly after, Marietta City, Fulton County, Atlanta and Gwinnett...
Budget proposes more for colleges; lawmakers discuss aid to students
Budget proposes more for colleges; lawmakers discuss aid to students

State lawmakers discussed during budget hearings Tuesday how they can help more Georgia students enroll in college, stay there and take the classes they need. Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed budget increases general spending for the University System of Georgia by nearly $117 million, to about $2.4 billion and the Technical College System of Georgia...
Mayor moves to hand school deeds back to APS
Mayor moves to hand school deeds back to APS

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms moved Tuesday to fulfill a campaign promise to transfer disputed deeds to Atlanta Public Schools, a step the superintendent said will enable the school district to control, sell and swap its properties. The mayor and APS announced an agreement to give the school system deeds to 50 school properties “without restriction...
Update: Metro Atlanta’s largest colleges closed Wednesday
Update: Metro Atlanta’s largest colleges closed Wednesday

Some of Metro Atlanta and North Georgia largest college campuses announced online overnight that are cancelling classes Wednesday and other activities as snow covers the region. The campuses that have announced closures include: Georgia State University Georgia Tech Emory University Kennesaw State University Clark Atlanta University Morehouse College...
More Stories