In another example of the drastic effects national policy can have on the Rice community, the tax bill in Congress has the potential to severely impact graduate students (see p. 1). The proposal would remove exemptions for tuition waivers, increasing the effective tax paid by graduate students on already small stipends.
The bill would also apply a tax to Rice’s endowment income. Even with this additional financial burden, however, Rice must commit to raising graduate student stipends to offset increased taxes if the tax plan becomes law. Without doing so, the reduction in post-tax stipend income could seriously endanger the ability for graduate students to support themselves while attending the university, as well as impact the diversity and quality of the future students who are able to afford to come to Rice.
President David Leebron’s Vision for the Second Century II focuses heavily on Rice’s graduate programs. That recognition of graduate students’ importance should be reflected in Rice taking a strong stance opposing the tax bill — the university has already said it supports the Association of American Universities’ statement against it — and the actions it takes if the proposal becomes reality.