What's in the Bill?

The proposed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would repeal tuition waivers for Ph.D and masters students. Currently, the IRS taxes students on their income, but grants tuition waivers for students who receive tuition benefits and work as research or teaching assistants. What does this mean?

For a student who makes $20,000 per year as a TA and receives a tuition waiver of $20,000 per year, he or she would be taxed as if they made $40,000. Their federal tax bill would increase from around $550 per year to around $3,300. That’s an increase of 500%.


According to reporting by Vox.com, this bill could raise taxes on graduate students by an average of $2,000 and affect approximately 145,000 students across the country. To get a better sense of some of the specifics of the bill, check out our media resources page, but to put it bluntly, if you are a TA or an RA getting a tuition waiver, this will be very costly for you.

As of November 16, the House version of the bill repeals IRS Code Section 117(d), but the December 2 version of the bill does not. The bill now heads to a joint House/Senate committee, where the differences between the two bills will be resolved. We will keep you updated with how this process appears to be progressing, and will identify the key committee members to target.

To stop this tax increase from happening, we need to act now.

What Can I Do?

There are three simple steps you can take to help prevent Congress from crippling the American educational system:


Call your legislators. You can find a phone number using this tool to identify who represents you in Congress, or by calling the congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Calling doesn't need to be scary or hard. Be polite, follow one of our scripts, and watch a demonstration video. Tell your story.



Vox.com estimates that 145,000 graduate students could be affected by this change. We need help from each and every student to protect our educational system, now and for years to come.

The MOST important thing you can do is get the word out.

Send our site to your friends, co-workers, and club members. Encourage them to make calls and contact their schools.


Colleges and Universities have established relationships with their representatives in the Government, and will have a larger voice than any individual student.

Use our resources to reach out to administrators at your institution. Ask if they are concerned about the tax plan, and what they plan to do to stop it. Let them know how this will affect you.

 Why is this Issue Important?

American excellence and innovation is driven by our system of education. Grad students are not living large off stipends; they are working hard and making very little money to make our technology more efficient, our medicines more effective, to increase our understanding of the world, and so much more.

This bill will make it harder for current and future students to attend grad school. It will stifle innovation. It will result in fewer enrolled grad students and will encourage future leaders and innovators to enroll in foreign programs instead of studying in America.

This isn't a partisan issue. We all reap the benefits of the hard work and our country will suffer if we have fewer people studying, innovating, and creating.

Together we can stop this