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AAU Statement on Senate Tax Reform Proposal

Following is a statement by Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman on the Senate Finance Committee’s tax reform proposal:

While we are pleased the Senate bill retains many of the student tax benefits the House was willing to eliminate, it still places too much of the burden of fixing our outdated tax system on America’s nonprofit universities. Graduate student tuition remission, the student loan interest deduction, and employer-provided educational assistance are all critical to keeping higher education accessible and affordable.

We are deeply disappointed that the Senate tax reform plan would eliminate the state and local tax deduction. Doing so would only serve to further discourage state investment in public colleges and universities, harming the ability of our public and land-grant institutions to fulfill their nonprofit educational, research, and public service missions.

We also remain troubled that the Senate proposal contains the same misguided excise tax on certain private university endowments. To gain $3 billion – 0.005 percent of the government’s projected deficit spending – Congress seems eager to redirect these funds to the federal government’s coffers, with no clear benefit to America’s hardworking students and their families. Endowment funds support generous institutional student aid packages, student services like career counseling, and cutting-edge medical research, among many other things. This is an unprecedented “phantom tax” on donors who are making a personal choice about using their hard-earned dollars to fund public goods like student financial aid and cancer research. Rather than allowing endowment funds to help students and support critical research advances, this excise tax is sending those funds directly to the U.S. Treasury.

Research universities are pillars of American society, enabling countless young people to attain postsecondary education and preparing them for participation in our dynamic 21st century economy. As part of the government-university partnership, these universities conduct research on behalf of the American taxpayer, to create new technologies, fortify our national defense, and bolster our economic competitiveness. This tax plan, much like the House plan, undermines this historic partnership and threatens our global leadership role.

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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.

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