Illinois State and other colleges and universities appear to have dodged an unfavorable measure that has now been removed from the GOP tax plan.
ISU President Larry Dietz said he's pleased graduate assistants won't have to treat their tuition waivers as income.
"Most university presidents opposed taxing tuition waivers. It would have a terrifically negative effect on graduate programs across the country. And I'm delighted to hear the news that it's out of the upcoming bill," said Dietz.
One provision remaining in the tax bill forced ISU trustees on Saturday to rush through a $60 million bond issue. The board had previously indicated support for buying back the Cardinal Court complex from a public-private partnership. But Dietz said the bond issue had to be approved before the end of the year.
The Republican tax bill contains a provision to eliminate a class of tax-exempt bonds for not-for-profit entities such as universities. Many other nonprofits with big capital projects are rushing to complete financial arrangements as well.
"The tax code has the potential for changing that a little bit. Those resolutions needed to be done before Dec. 31 in order to take advantage of considerable tax savings," said Dietz.
Dietz said passing the bond issue before that bill becomes law would save ISU about $24 million over the life of the bonds.
There remain threats to colleges and universities in other upcoming legislation. Dietz said, in particular, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act next year is fraught.
"There's a lot to do with student financial aid in that, and so some folks would also want to see student loan interest rates not be deferred until after graduation, higher rates and so forth. And that will have a negative effect on affordability and access for a lot of students," said Dietz.
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