Defense of Egalitarian Institutions
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This is my first semester at Washington University, and it may be my last. My mother has been a WashU employee for 15 years. Through her dependent tuition remission benefit, which on several occasions provided the heaviest argument for passing over other job opportunities, I have been financially enabled to attend a school which would otherwise be comically far above our tax bracket. I have always looked on this program, along with the programs of University College, and the outstanding medical infrastructure that the University strove to build in Saint Louis, as evidence not only the of Washington University's desire to be an elite institution, but to contribute substantively to its community in a way that, at least as we are told in our current political environment, the elite simply don't.
If the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passes this winter – and there is reason to believe that it will, much of that would-be generosity will be for naught. When, as the bill mandates, employee benefits expressible in monetary terms become taxable income, employees using the tuition remission benefit stand to have their taxes increased by tens of thousands of dollars, pulling the opportunities which WashU has worked so hard to create once again out of reach.
Therefore, I, along with the undersigned, propose that the university enact an emergency redefinition of the tuition remission benefit, such that, for students attending the University, tuition and fees not “payed for” by the University, rather that tuition be waved entirely, in order that there be no remission to be taxed in the first place.
Furthermore, we propose that you reach out to the administrations of institutions in which employees and their families are frequently enrolled - in Rolla, Colombia, Kansas City, and elsewhere in Saint Louis - in an effort to construct a plan to solve this issue via a collective financing agreement which would remove the danger currently imposed by this bill for as many of the students as such a consortium would be able to reach.
Egalitarian institutions seeking to promote the dissemination of knowledge and the individual empowerment it enables, in spite of class differences, are facing an existential threat. The task now is to respond, and we encourage you to do so.
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