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Jay Rubenstein, the Riggsby director of the UT Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, wrote an opinion-editorial for the Knoxville News Sentinel about how a proposed graduate student tax could cripple a generation of students.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act recently passed by the House of Representatives would consider as taxable income the free tuition waivers graduate students receive to defray the costs of the education.

“No one goes to graduate school to go bankrupt…and that is the reality most students will face if this bill becomes law,” Rubenstein wrote. “One justification for this new law is that it will give everyone more take-home pay and thus more financial freedom. There is a lot of doubt and disagreement as to whether middle-class Americans will actually reap substantial rewards from it. In any case, students whose incomes artificially double or triple will lose both opportunity and mobility.”

He added: “If the House version of tax reform passes, far fewer deserving and capable young people will be able to attend graduate school. The next generation of American thought leaders and innovators will have been kneecapped. And communities like Knoxville, hubs of innovative research, will suffer.”