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Standing with our graduate students

Graduate student tax waiver
OHSU School of Medicine student Mollie Marr helped the Graduate Student Organization organize a letter-writing campaign where graduate students opposed the proposed loss of the tax waiver for tuition, December 1, 2017. Marr is pursuing her M.D. and her Ph.D. and says losing the tax waiver could mean dropping out of OHSU. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

Many of us recognize that being a graduate student is often synonymous with a Ramen noodle lifestyle, involving a period of years of financial sacrifice while pursuing the knowledge required to contribute, in our students’ case, to the advancement of human health.

This is why there is tax-free tuition for graduate students. The federal tax bill that passed the U.S. House would end this tax waiver. A Senate bill is nearing a vote and, if passed, would require reconciling with the House bill.

For students like Mollie Marr, pursuing her M.D. and her Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine, losing the tax waiver could mean dropping out of OHSU. Paying the estimated tax on top of her non-deferrable undergraduate student loans would leave her about $500 a month to live on. While she says she’s willing to sleep on couches, she can’t forego food or her asthma medication.

The OHSU Graduate Student Organization, including Marr and many classmates with similar stories, is holding a letter-writing campaign and organizing other ways for students, staff and faculty to share their personal stories and perspectives about the impact of losing this tax waiver, including:

  • Call and email your U.S. representatives and senators. Make it personal – share how this would impact you and why this matters to you. Identify your Representatives and Senators:
  • Speak to your family, friends and the community at large about the importance of graduate education and science, as well as the potential ramifications of this tax plan for trainees.
  • Post how it impacts you, your students and higher education in the U.S. on social media.  #SaveGradEd  #GradStudentTax
two students looking at computer while they write letters
Robert Hermosillo (left) and Alina Goncharova watch a congressional debate as they write letters to members of congress, December 1, 2017. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

We are proud of our students for speaking out. Graduate programs don’t exist without students. Scientific discovery does not happen without the inquiring minds and able hands of students working in their faculty mentors’ labs and pursuing their own research questions.

We recognize that the graduate school tuition tax waiver is just one of many aspects of this massive legislation that is drawing debate. But it is a profound piece that impacts students as individuals, our institution and the advancement of science as a whole.

OHSU is working closely with the AAMC and our Congressional delegation to provide information about the impact of this proposal. Institutions across Oregon and the country are doing the same. We encourage you to join in this opportunity to stand with our graduate students.

Thank you.

Joe Robertson, M.D.
President, OHSU

Sharon Anderson, M.D.
Dean, OHSU School of Medicine

Elena Andresen, Ph.D.
Provost, OHSU

Susan Bakewell Sachs, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Dean, OHSU School of Nursing

David Bangsberg, M.D., M.P.H.
Dean, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D.
Interim Senior Vice President for Research, OHSU

Phillip Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, OHSU School of Dentistry

Mark Zabriskie, Ph.D.
Dean, OHSU-OSU School of Pharmacy

For details on the impact of the tax proposal, following are additional resources:


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