Well, that didn’t take long. “Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1), repealing a key provision that, if signed into law, will have consequences for graduate students across the nation,” the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) claims. ”In reclassifying graduate school tuition waivers as taxable income, Congress has placed graduate students in financial jeopardy, threatening long-term negative effects on our country’s scientific enterprise.”
“According to the US Department of Education’s most recent data, 145,000 graduate students receive this tax waiver annually, 70 percent of whom are enrolled in programs in the natural, applied, and social sciences; technology; engineering; or mathematics.” Note that this billing gives sociologists a higher place in the academic caste system than engineers.
“The repeal of section 117(d)(5) of the existing tax code will have far-reaching consequences on scientific research,” the AAUP asserts. “Graduate students are not only future innovators: their work is vital in driving current scientific knowledge at research universities and institutions around the country. Their experiments, research papers, and lab and field activities help move scientific knowledge forward, boost the economy, and provide the scientific backbone behind research that protects our health, environment, and communities. Graduate students are also an essential teaching corps of the American college system.” This last is a tacit admission that they are the actual teachers in academe but sets up the question–what are the tenured cadre doing?