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The Indiana Daily Student


Graduate students ask why IU administration has remained silent on proposed "grad tax" cuts in new GOP tax proposal

More than 100 grad students from all areas of study march from Woodburn Hall to Bryan Hall to deliver a petition to President Michael McRobbie to publicly oppose a House of Representatives bill taxing graduate students' tuition waivers. The GOP-backed bill would repeal tax exemptions for students receiving tuition waivers and would affect more than 2,100 IU students.

Update: This story has been updated to include part of a statement from IU President Michael McRobbie. His full remarks can be found here

Graduate students will knock on President McRobbie's door Wednesday afternoon.

As debates over the proposed GOP tax plan continue, IU graduate students are worried they will lose the opportunity to study at the University at all. 

Abby Ang, a graduate student and associate instructor in the IU Department of English, said the new plan introduced by the House of Representatives in the beginning of November would be disastrous for graduate students.

$14,500 of Ang's tuition is waived per year, but under the House's proposed plan, that tuition waiver could be taxed, causing her to pay taxes on money she never actually receives. 

This paired along with a stipend salary of $13,000 to teach two classes a year as an associate instructor is what she lives on, she said.

"I wouldn't be able to afford to go to graduate school," Ang said.

However, unlike the House, the Senate plan currently exempts taxation on graduate tuition waivers for graduate students, according to the plan.

She said IU graduate students are wondering why IU administration has remained silent on this issue thus far. 

The IU English Graduate Solidarity Coalition, IU Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Associations and Campus Action for Democracy will march down to President McRobbie's office in Bryan Hall on Wednesday afternoon to make him listen.

Participants of the rally and walkout will meet at Woodburn Hall clock tower at 1 p.m. Wednesday on Nov. 29, hear speakers and eventually walk to Bryan Hall to deliver a petition to McRobbie. 

Ang said she and other graduate students want to know they are supported by the University.

"We hope for a statement that at the very least acknowledges the impact on graduate students," Ang said. "One that says, 'Hey, we support IU's graduate students, we understand you're freaking out, and we would like to do whatever we can do to help you out,' at the very least something like that." 

The petition demands Sen. Todd Young, R-IN and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-IN, oppose any tax bill including a graduate student tax. It also demands President McRobbie and the IU Board of Trustees publicly oppose the tax. 

The joint groups hope to get a few thousand signatures by Wednesday, Ang said. 

Ang said though she was not sure it was feasible, the University could help by lowering tuition for graduate students should the House plan provisions pass.

"What if they lowered graduate student tuitions for like a dollar so we could just be taxed on that?" Ang said. "That would be nice."

McRobbie addressed the tax proposal in his Tuesday morning remarks to the University Faculty Council. 

He said he wanted to express IU's concerns about the proposed legislation, specifically mentioning proposals to eliminate the Student Debt Interest Deduction and tax graduate school tuition waivers as threats to IU's missions.

"The education we provide our best and brightest students is one of the most powerful contributions our country’s colleges and universities can make to improving our communities and our society at large," McRobbie said. "IU will not waver in its commitment to educating engaged citizens who will shape the future of our state, nation, and world."

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