New tax plan is major threat to Baylor community

By Brennan Butcher | Contributor

The House of Representatives just passed the GOP’s new tax plan that includes billions in cuts from corporations and wealthy businesses. Without this source of revenue, other groups will be hit hard. Among these groups are college students, their parents and anyone who holds student loan debt.

The American Council on Education estimates that the House’s new tax plan will reduce tax benefits and savings for college students by $65 billion over the next 10 years. The purpose of this tax plan is to alleviate the financial pressure on the middle class; however, with the effects felt by middle class families trying to send their children to college, this is arguably a devastating action taken against them.

This tax plan would affect the Baylor community specifically in multiple ways. Most significantly would be the 400 percent tax increase on current graduate students. Baylor’s president, Dr. Linda Livingstone, addressed the issue in a recent weekly address to the school. “Unfortunately, the proposed federal tax bill counts any tuition waivers received by graduate students as taxable income.” Tuition waivers allow students to work at a university in exchange for tuition. Under the new plan, tuition waivers will be instead taxed as income, drastically increasing taxes for students and families who benefit from the program. Larry Lyon, Ph.D., vice provost and dean of Baylor graduate school, said to the Waco Tribune that the plan was “probably the most serious threat to doctoral education we have ever experienced.” Lyon estimated that over 1,000 graduate and doctoral students at Baylor would be affected.

Another major blow to the Baylor community would be the 1.4 percent excise tax on all private colleges and universities. While 1.4 percent may not seem like a lot, this could result in potential hundreds of thousands of dollar payments by the university every year. Other private schools such as Wabash College have come forward and said that this would necessitate reductions in scholarships, layoffs, and reduced wages across the board.

Baylor has already expressed its concern toward the effect this new tax plan would have on its students. Livingstone sent a message via email to all Baylor students, staff and faculty. In the message, Livingstone expressed her concern for the proposed plan’s effect on Baylor’s graduate students. She promised that Baylor was working with Texas representatives to fight for the school and students’ interests. However, Livingstone encourages all of Baylor to use their power as citizens to make their views known.

If this tax plan were to take effect, hundreds of Baylor graduate students will be unable to afford to continue their education, future students will not be able to receive as much scholarship money, and our faculty will have to face financial cutbacks. It is the responsibility of every member of our community to inform our representatives that we do not approve of a plan that strips current students of already established financial security, and will result in a reversal of progress that Baylor has made in affording middle class families an opportunity at a private education.