You may have heard that Congress is considering a tax plan that would count graduate tuition waivers - transactions between parts of the university, money that never touches our bank accounts - as taxable income. If passed into law, this would would triple or quadruple the federal tax burden for graduate students at the University of Minnesota, many of whom already struggle to make rent every month on the meager stipends that we receive.
The tuition tax would be especially hard on international students, students with dependents, and multiply marginalized students. By making a PhD unfeasible for all but the wealthiest and most privileged, the tuition tax would be catastrophic for graduate education, and for graduate workers like ourselves. Many of us would be forced to consider leaving school.
The tuition tax is part of a larger problem of unaffordability in graduate education. It's not enough to lobby Congress to kill this bill. We demand that the University administration take concrete steps to address the low stipends, burdensome fees, and other precarious conditions of graduate work that made this crisis possible.