- Virginia Foxx, Republican representative from North Carolina and chair of the House education committee, has proposed higher education legislation that would put a limit of $28,500 annually on how much graduate students can borrow — with a provision for higher lending for students in medical fields. The bill would negate several benefits for borrowers by modifying income-based repayment plans and eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness and possibly federal work study, reports Inside Higher Ed.
- The plans follows tax bills from the Senate and House that would implement a 1.4% excise tax on private colleges with the largest endowments of $500,000 and $250,000 per full-time student respectively. In addition, the House bill proposal would eliminate the tax deductions on student loan interest and institute an income tax on tuition waivers and stipends — which many higher ed leaders worry will hinder graduate student enrollment.
- Graduate students across the country have participated in protests and walk-outs, reports NPR, with many saying they may not be able to afford graduate school any longer, especially with proposed caps on federal student borrowing.
The tax bill from the House to tax graduate student tuition waivers and research stipends as income (stipulations which the Senate bill also preserves) will negatively impact graduate students who rely heavily on tuition grants. Under the tax proposes, students receiving, for example, $40,000 in grant aid and a $20,000 stipend would be taxed as though they earn an annual income of $60,000.
And now, proposals to put caps on how much graduate students can borrow from the government — with blows to the loan forgiveness potential and income-driven repayment plans — means that learners may be discouraged from pursuing a graduate education, because they would have to go to private lenders that charge higher interest rates.
Administrators are worried that the bills will disrupt the higher education business model, with The Chronicle of Higher Education quoting St. Anselm College president, Steven DiSalvo saying, “I don’t see how any of this is going to help us thrive as academic institutions going forward.”
Many graduate students in the last few weeks have said their ability to afford school would be negatively impacted by the legislation, which doesn't bode well for institutions. The American Council on Education is recommending "Higher education leadership, staff, faculty and students should actively engage in advocacy activities to remind Congress of our community’s priorities."