Following is a statement by Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman on the House tax reform bill.
We appreciate Congress’s efforts to strengthen and simplify the tax code, and we commend their commitment to maintaining strong charitable giving incentives. However, the legislation, as currently proposed, will make higher education less affordable and less accessible to middle- and low-income Americans. This bill will have dire consequences for Americans who rely on research universities for undergraduate and graduate education, and to conduct cutting-edge research that results in life-saving medicines, and innovative technologies that bolster our national defense and economic competitiveness.
Eliminating employer-provided educational assistance, the student loan interest deduction, and other critical higher education tax provisions is counterproductive as it undermines the very workforce Congress seeks to support. Pro-growth tax reform should expand these student benefits to foster a more highly-educated and skilled workforce.
Additionally, imposing an excise tax on nonprofit private university endowments is a short-sighted move that will only harm students and their families. Endowments support substantial student aid and student service programs, and provide funding for instruction, research, and for building and maintaining classrooms, labs, libraries, and other facilities. These funds help universities better support their students and respond to changing needs in their local communities, states, and the American economy.
At a time when our country faces increasing global competition, our tax code must support our students, scientists, engineers, researchers, and entrepreneurs who create the cures and technologies that drive our economy and support our national health and security. We need a tax code that bolsters the government-university partnership, supports affordable and accessible higher education, and permits universities to conduct the groundbreaking research on which the American taxpayer depends.
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Founded in 1900, the Association of American Universities comprises 62 distinguished institutions that continually advance society through education, research, and discovery.
Our universities earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for academic research, are improving human life and wellbeing through research, and are educating tomorrow’s visionary leaders and global citizens.
AAU members collectively help shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation; promote best practices in undergraduate and graduate education; and strengthen the contributions of research universities to society.