By now, you're likely aware of the tax bill that is wending its way through Congress. One change our members have identified that could have a major impact on both educational access and workforce/talent development is the elimination of the graduate student tax waiver. Please see below to read our recent outreach to Kansas legislators, asking them to keep this crucial provision in any tax legislation that moves forward.
Dear Kansas Representative/Senator:
As a representative of the life science and healthcare industries in the state of Kansas, and on behalf of the nearly 27,000 students who attend graduate school in the state of Kansas, I’m writing to ask that Congress not consider graduate student tuition waivers as taxable income. As you know, in addition to a small stipend to help cover living expenses, graduate students in STEM fields (science, tech, engineering and math) often have their tuition waived in exchange for having the student teach, or perform research for the school. Currently, this waived tuition is not taxed as income. However, a provision in the recently approved House bill would change that, adding the amount of waived tuition to the student's taxable income. If passed, this will have a profound impact on the ability of students to earn advanced degrees, and, subsequently, the talent pipeline that feeds into the industries these students hope to work in.
As an M.S. degree holder, I can speak firsthand to the benefit this tuition waiver provides for graduate students, who already exist on a relatively meager stipend and who shouldn’t have to worry about finding enough money to cover taxes on money that they won’t actually see. If this waiver is eliminated, we could see a drastic decrease in the number of students who are able to afford graduate school at Kansas institutions such as the University of Kansas, Wichita State, Kansas State, Emporia State, Pitt State, Fort Hays State and the University of Kansas Medical Center. This could cause a profound decrease in the qualified talent available to the life science, healthcare and biotech industries across the country and in Kansas.
During the reconciliation process, please ask your House/Senate colleagues who are Conferees to remove this clause of the tax bill, and continue to support education, and access to it, for students in Kansas and across the country. Please do not hesitate to reach out if BioKansas can help provide more information or connections to students who would be directly impacted.
Thank you for your time, and I hope we can count on your support.
President & CEO, BioKansas