Update on the Proposed Graduate Student Tax for Graduate Faculty

November 22, 2017

Dear Graduate Faculty Colleagues,

As the Chancellor noted in his e-mail of last Friday, the tax reform bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week contains a number of provisions that would be harmful to universities. Among these is a provision that would impose a new tax on graduate students receiving tuition waivers or scholarships. This could cost the typical PhD student thousands of dollars per year. 

The University is working to oppose this provision, as well as other elements of the House and Senate bills, and is also looking for ways to mitigate the effects of these potential changes in the law. I have met with several student groups to discuss what the University is doing and how they can be involved in advocacy efforts. I have sent an email similar to this one to all graduate students. I also have written about this issue in a letter to the Post-Gazette its editorial board of the paper has supported our point of view.

I am writing both to let you know that the University is taking this very seriously and also to stress that our graduate students are highly concerned.   

Some faculty have asked what they can do to oppose this change and support our students. I would suggest the following: 

  1. Support our students. Imagine if you were facing a potential 25% cut in income beginning in a few months, as some of our students could be. This is a very significant issue and one that is causing genuine worry for students. 
  2. Inform yourself about the changes and their potential impact. Many sites and articles contain information, including the ACE, NAGPS, and @ChrisMarsicano.
  3. Visit and revisit the "With Pitt" portal site. This will be updated to include new information on this issue and opportunities to engage as they emerge. Consider contacting your elected officials via this portal or otherwise. A critical time for outreach will be the week after Thanksgiving when the Senate is debating and voting on their bill.
  4. Consider writing a letter to the editor to local or national media outlets giving your opinion and sharing your story about the impact of these changes.
  5. Follow @PittGradStudies on Twitter. We will be using this to distribute information about the progress of this effort and the response to it. 

If you have additional ideas to support our students or to combat the proposed graduate student tax, please let me know.


Nathan Urban
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies