Citizen's View: Trump's tax plan will hurt vulnerable college students
As debate continues over the Trump administration's proposed overhaul of our tax system, one thing we should be able to agree on is common sense: It is vital that we make a college degree accessible to as many Americans as possible.
Unfortunately, the recently proposed tax plan significantly hinders this effort. Numerous provisions in the plan will harm students, especially first-generation and nontraditional college students.
As a first-generation college student myself, I understand how daunting the college application process can be, especially when it comes to identifying how to pay for your degree. The president's proposed tax plan will add to the existing financial pressures students — especially nontraditional students — already face.
At Marylhurst University, many students are considered nontraditional, meaning they have returned to school to finish a degree they began years ago, to change the direction of their career or to increase their earning potential. Many of our students are also the first generation in their family to attend college and are particularly vulnerable to the financial burden that comes with paying for higher education. Our students also come from underrepresented populations and diverse backgrounds, already overcoming barriers — financial or otherwise — in their quest for their degree.
The proposed elimination of the Student Loan Interest Deduction will severely impact these students. This popular deduction helps recent graduates afford payments on their student loans by allowing them to deduct the interest on those loans from their annual taxes. Eliminating this deduction will unfairly levy additional taxes on lower-income, recent college graduates who have not yet had time to realize the financial benefits of their degrees.
Lawmakers have also proposed eliminating Employer-Provided Education Assistance. By removing the incentive for employers to provide tuition assistance benefits to working students, it becomes that much more difficult to expand educational opportunities to those who are willing to take on the challenge of going back to school.
In addition, the new excise tax on endowments and the elimination of Private Activity Bonds proposed in the new tax plan will negatively impact the ability of independent nonprofits such as colleges and universities to provide high-quality, affordable education. Private Activity Bonds and endowments are vital to universities such as Marylhurst for the opportunities they provide to invest back into student resources such as financial aid, faculty, facilities and research tools. These will be threatened under this plan.
College affordability is a key factor when it comes to student success. At Marylhurst, we have worked hard to keep our degrees affordable by freezing tuition the past two years and by offering financial literacy services and credit for prior learning.
As an educator, a scholar and a first-generation college student myself, I ask that you join me in supporting our most vulnerable college students. We must ensure the affordability of a college degree and that the resources that benefit students are not lost to make up for other tax cuts. Our students deserve better.
Melody Rose is the president of Marylhurst University.