via Daily Prompt: Particular
My blog entry today has nothing to do about dating, relationships or my love life. It has to do with something I am staunchly an advocate of – the availability of education for all.
Semester is starting to wind down. Final projects, exams and papers are looming on the horizon. The life of a student – a very old student 🙂 is not easy, but I have eased into a groove that is making it manageable. I am grateful for the opportunity to study.
I am proud of who I am and what I am accomplishing. I am doing this for me and for my future. I am lucky that I work at an institution, and even luckier that I work for someone who supports furthering my education. But that may change, very soon.
I had a conversation with one of my closest friends last night about graduate school and doctorates. Events this week have both saddened me and angered me.
The bill that just passed the House of Representatives will place more financial burdens on those pursuing graduate degrees with a measure that could raise their tax liability by 300 percent or more. These changes could be crippling for research in the US.
Under the bill tuition waivers would be taxed as income. In essence:
“A provision tucked away in the House’s bill would count the tuition discounts given to many grad students as income, meaning that students would pay taxes on tens of thousands of dollars that they never see. The bill would double or even triple many students’ taxes.”
Many graduate or PhD students receive tuition waivers to earn their degrees. I am one of those students. In other words –
A teaching assistant at Berkeley who earns about $24,000 in 2017 would see his or her tax bill jump from $2,229 under current law to $3,641 under the House plan — a 63 percent spike, according to that analysis.
The hit would be much greater at private schools, like MIT, where a research assistant making about $37,000 would see his or her tax bill jump from $3,993 to $13,577 under the House plan. That’s a 240 percent increase that would make that student’s tax burden about 37 percent of his or her salary.
And the argument from some people is – isn’t a graduate school education a luxury? If I work for a company and they give me a car as a bonus I have to pay taxes on that gift so what’s your point?
Someone receiving a car as a bonus directly affects the person receiving it. The company received a benefit by having that particular employee work hard to earn that car. So for those two its a win-win, right? How does that affect you or me? Well, maybe the company produces more of an item that we will buy since it has more to spend on manufacturing – so we get availability for a product we like – maybe at a reduced rate and the company adds to the economy and its own bottom line too.
But say we have a graduate student or Phd student receiving a tuition waiver and is actively doing research on a cure for a particular disease. How does that benefit me? That student wants to better his or her self but also by performing research is hoping to benefit society as well.
We want a society that is educated and can compete in the sciences, mathematics, technology with the rest of the world. But we are lagging horribly. We want scientific discoveries, cures for diseases, technology to improve our lives but we don’t realize that we need to have an educated workforce to do these things. And if anyone thinks getting a PhD or graduate degree can be done working full time remember this – many programs don’t allow that – especially the sciences.
This doesn’t affect the wealthy. Their children will be able to attend school and not have to worry about how they will pay for utilities or groceries. But for most of us the reality is much more dire. I earn a great salary but I have no husband to help with my income. I have the opportunity to pursue higher education because it is available to me to do so with help. I could not afford to pay for a master’s degree without assistance. My family is not wealthy and I had to pay my way through undergraduate education. I chose to go to a school that I could afford. At present, the value of my current tuition waiver would add to my income and skyrocket my tax bill cost. I could not afford to continue. Poor me right? But ask yourself this – if you had the same opportunity wouldn’t you do it too? Shouldn’t that be a good thing?
Why should anyone who chooses to pursue higher education be vilified? It baffles me that Republicans would burden students and not embrace anyone who wants to better not only themselves but society as a whole.
The only hope is that the Senate bill which excludes this provision stays that way when it is passed. And I am sorry if you are angry and say well why should I pay for someone else to go to school – remember this too – the more we take away opportunities from others the harder it will be to fight for opportunities for you too.
I wish our government would embrace education and make it affordable to everyone. In the end we all benefit because choice is a powerful thing and pushing the ideal of limitations is destructive. You should be able to choose to pursue higher education based on personal choice not financial.