My name is Zofia Knorek, and I am a graduate student at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, where I study marine invasive species. I am writing to you to draw your attention to how the House Republican tax plan (HR 1) would impact the 145,000 graduate students across the nation.
Higher education runs on graduate student labor. We teach undergraduates and perform ground-breaking research. In exchange for 40-to-80-hour work weeks, we receive a modest livable stipend and tuition waiver. At the University of Oregon, this waiver keeps us from having to spend $17,000 per year or, for international students, $28,000. The tax bill would treat the value of our tuition waivers as taxable income, increasing our tax burden from $1,500 to $3,500. That increase is even more staggering at private institutions, where graduate students would see their tax burden increase upwards of $10,000 or 400 percent.
These increases would make graduate education accessible to only the wealthiest students, disproportionately discouraging minorities from communities that are already underrepresented in academia from pursuing master's or doctoral degrees. It would also undercut our nation's ability to stay at the forefront of global academic achievement.
If this bill passes the Senate, I and many of my peers would be forced to terminate our graduate education, as the tax increase would make our income simply impossible to live on.