APS Statement on Taxation of Graduate Student Tuition Waivers

The American Physiological Society (APS) urges Congress to preserve the current tax exempt status of tuition waivers for graduate students who serve as teaching or research assistants. As passed by the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) would eliminate Section 117(d)(5) of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code, which specifies that tuition waivers for graduate students are not counted as taxable income.

For more than 125 years, APS has been working to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. Our membership consists of some 10,000 research scientists throughout the world who study physiological processes and train the next generation of researchers. More than 1,700 of our members are currently graduate students who stand to be negatively impacted by the proposed taxation of tuition waivers.

While pursuing their degrees, graduate students provide valuable service to their academic communities by teaching undergraduates and carrying out federally-funded research projects. Graduate students in the sciences depend on the modest stipends and tuition waivers that are provided as part of their research and teaching assistantships. Taxing tuition waivers as income would present a serious financial burden on students and serve as a deterrent to those wishing to pursue higher education.

Fostering a skilled scientific workforce is essential to the future economic competitiveness of the U.S. We call on Congress to reject changes to the tax code that would be harmful to the next generation of scientists.

The APS also joined with more than 40 other organizations to urge Congress to preserve provisions of the current that code that promote innovation in science and technology by reducing the tax burden on students who pursue graduate education.