Dec 28, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Now that grad students have narrowly escaped the proposed tax increase included in President Trump’s sweeping overhaul of the US’s tax code, does this mean they can breathe a collective sigh of relief? Not so much, according to experts. Here’s a closer look at why grad students may not be completely in the clear.

What’s Next for Grad Students?

Graduate students spent the past month working to defeat the House of Republicans’ plan to treat their waived tuition fees as taxable income. While their victory was cause for celebration, experts say this is just the beginning. 

In fact, “The tuition tax proposal is just one in a growing list of graduate school benefits that House Republicans have in their legislative sights. Next up is an extensive rewrite of the law governing the nation’s higher education system, and again, Republicans hope to drastically curtail or end revenue streams that graduate students rely on to pursue advanced degrees,” says The Post Gazette. 

Indeed, the looming rewrite of the Higher Education Act contains its own dangers to graduate students, including ending loan forgiveness programs and introducing borrowing caps for funds from the federal government. 

And for Higher Education at Large?

But it’s not just grad students who have cause for concern. Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, told The Post Gazette, “I think there’s a general assault on higher education right now. I think it’s tied into a dangerous narrative in our country about elitism. It undervalues our most important resource, which is our inventiveness, our ingenuity, our ability to solve big problems.” 

The good news? Higher education advocates are primed for the fight.  Campus activism scholar Angus Johnston told The Atlantic, “The connections that people have made, the experience people have had in organizing in recent weeks [aren’t] going away. There is a heightened awareness of the specific threat to students represented by the current regime in Washington.”

Read more about graduate studies in the US.




Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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