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UL graduate students grapple with potential affects of tax refor - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

UL graduate students grapple with potential affects of tax reform

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LAFAYETTE, La. -

The US Senate is expected to vote on the Republican tax reform bill in the next 48 hours.

But students at UL are keeping a close eye on the house tax proposal because a provision in that bill could bring their academic careers to a screeching halt.

A provision of the GOP tax plan would count tuition waivers and teaching stipends for graduate students as taxable income. Grad students at UL say those new taxes could keep them from graduating.

"Because I am a research fellow I'm working for the university and they give me a tuition waiver. If this bill were to pass that would mean that the government is treating that $25,000 waiver like income. I never see that money," says PhD candidate Kassandra Ford.

"I still have three years to go so this will really hurt me and my family," says PhD candidate Paige Byerly.

"Folks are pretty concerned, you know, afraid, I think for their future," says graduate coordinator Emily Sandoz.

The UL Graduate Student Organization says if the tax proposal becomes law, at least 30 percent of UL's graduate students would be negatively impacted.

"If this bill goes through it's going to mean a lot of graduate students can no longer afford to stay here," says Ford.

"As international students, we are not allowed to work outside so we have to survive only with our stipend," says Sub Hash who came to UL from Nepal.

The GSO says those cuts could have impacts outside of the university, as well.

"There are a lot of graduate students here working on coastal restoration and flooding issues which are huge here in Louisiana and so if those people are forced to leave we're going to see a lot of decrease in that type of research," says Ford.

This will affect more wallets than just those of the graduate students. If you or your kids are still paying off student loans, the house version of the bill would eliminate the deduction you're allowed while paying off the interest on those loans.

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