Enlarge / Whatever you made in that flask, it’s going to cost you. (credit: Oak Ridge National Lab)
Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed its version of a tax bill that would drop corporate tax rates and alter various deductions. While most of the arguments about the bill have focused on which tax brackets will end up paying more, an entire class of individuals appears to have been specifically targeted with a measure that could raise their tax liability by 300 percent or more: graduate student researchers.
If maintained, the changes could be crippling for research in the US.
Tuition waivers
Many graduate programs in areas like business, medicine, and law can afford to charge high tuitions.

That’s in part because these degrees are in high demand and in part because the students know that they’ll have the potential to earn very large salaries after graduation.
PhD programs are nothing like this.

Despite typically taking five to six years to complete, a PhD student is only likely to earn in the area of $44,000 after graduation if they’re funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Even four years of additional experience doesn’t raise the salary above $50,000.

As such, charging them tuition would leave them with no way to possibly pay back their student loans.

Doing so would almost certainly discourage anyone but the independently wealthy from attending research-focused graduate programs.
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