The National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) strongly opposes the provision in H.R. 1, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which repeals the tax exemption many graduate students receive for tuition waivers. The passage of this provision by Congress would represent an increased tax burden on graduate students, who often receive tuition waivers in exchange for research or teaching assistantships.
NCSS directly serves the interests of higher education faculty and graduate students through its College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA) associated group. Both NCSS and CUFA believe H.R. 1 severely hinders our efforts to support the advancement of knowledge about social studies teaching and learning through quality graduate education. Graduate students are vital to the mission of institutions of higher education and our schools and colleges of education. They are instructors, research assistants, colleagues, and the future of our profession. Removing tax exemptions for tuition waivers serves as a financial barrier for entry to the academic field of social studies education, in particular for talented students already underrepresented in higher education. The potential loss of intellectual and human capital in social studies graduate education programs will impact the quality of undergraduate teacher education programs, innovation in our field, and inevitably, the quality of K-12 social studies education.
We ask that all NCSS members and the general public contact their congressional representatives and urge them to preserve the tax exemptions for tuition waivers. We also ask that members in the social studies higher education community begin to work immediately within their institutions to develop contingency plans to reduce any possible financial burden that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may place on graduate students.