You are here

Beyond the News

Higher ed responds to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

University Business, March 2018

The finalized version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that President Trump signed into law poses less of a perceived threat to higher ed than the bill that passed the House.

Proponents say that people who use education-savings accounts will benefit from deductions in student loan interest.

Critics, however, predict that the doubling of the standard deduction will result in fewer philanthropic contributions to colleges and universities. —Steven Wyman-Blackburn


Sidebar: Additional opinions on the tax bill’s impact on higher ed


“We are most pleased that conferees recognized the importance of employer-provided education benefits. NACUBO also lauds their decision to maintain the Lifetime Learning Credit and the Student Loan Interest Deduction.

“Additionally, we are very appreciative that the final agreement continues to allow colleges to finance infrastructure projects with private activity bonds. However, we continue to be concerned with the inclusion of provisions that will tax or constrain revenues previously used to support colleges and universities, as well as the students and communities they serve.”  Continue reading.

—John Walda, president and CEO, NACUBO

“We can only estimate the impact the tax law changes will have on charitable giving—the lifeblood of higher education’s scholarship and academic programs. The question for all nonprofits is how much the expanded standard deduction provision—without the inclusion of a universal charitable giving deduction—will reduce charitable giving. …

“The elimination of a tax incentive for 25 percent of filers to make charitable donations could be devastating to nonprofits of all types and sizes.” Continue reading.

Hope Williams, president, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, writing for WRAL.com

“We are pleased that the tax legislation … recognizes the importance of education benefits that help millions of middle- and lower-income students and families finance a college education. Unfortunately, some provisions in this legislation will still make a higher education more expensive and undermine the financial stability of colleges and universities.

“At a time when postsecondary degrees and credentials have never been more important to individuals and the nation, this tax reform legislation would make higher education more expensive and less accessible. This is a big step in the wrong direction.” Continue reading.

—Ted Mitchell, president, American Council on Education

“While we are relieved that the House-Senate conference committee chose to preserve important education tax benefits for students and employees, access to private activity bonds and the federal estate tax, the final tax legislation will make it more difficult for colleges, universities and independent schools to raise and manage private support.

“For this reason, CASE cannot support H.R. 1.” Continue reading.

—Sue Cunningham, president and CEO, Council For Advancement and Support of Education

“We’re pleased that initial provisions of the bill that would have significantly increased the taxable income of graduate students and student borrowers were scrapped. The conference report also critically preserves the Lifetime Learning Credit and the tax benefit for employer-provided tuition assistance. ... For students, the bill is significantly better than earlier proposals and we commend policymakers for making changes. ...

“We remain concerned that the increase in the standard deduction will reduce taxpayers’ incentive to support nonprofits through charitable giving.” Continue reading.

—Peter McPherson, president, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

“The bill passed by the House and Senate remains far from perfect, and we continue to have serious reservations about its overall impact on institutions of higher education. We maintain our belief that master’s and doctoral education are the backbone of America’s national security and greatly contribute to our economic standing in a global economy.

“Any tax provisions that affect the financial stability and accessibility of institutions of higher education could negatively impact our nation’s future.” Continue reading.

—Suzanne Ortega, president, Council of Graduate Schools

“So-called 529 education-savings accounts—and Americans who can benefit from using them—are big winners in the recent tax overhaul. New curbs on state and local tax deductions will make these tax-sheltered accounts more attractive.” Continue reading.

—Wall Street Journal