USC grad students walk out to protest GOP tax reform bill

EXPOSITION PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thousands of USC graduate students walked out of class Wednesday to protest the proposed GOP tax reform bill that's being discussed in the U.S. Senate.

It was one of many walkouts organized across the country.

The students said if it passes, the new tax law will make it too expensive for them to continue their education.

"A lot of students are living on the very low stipends that graduate students receive, which is an average of about $18,000 a year for grad students across the country. That's so that we can do research, we can teach college classes, we can grade papers and mentor students," student Miriam Rubenson said.

At USC, for example, many graduate students are given tuition waivers in exchange for teaching classes, grading papers and doing research. It's money they never see, but the tax plan would tax it as income.

"It affects grad students' quality of life, where we have to work multiple jobs. Our teaching commitment will be compromised. It affects everybody involved with the university. We're fundamental at every university," student Lacey Schauwecker said.

Also, these students are concerned that they wouldn't be able to write off the interest on student loans and their stipends for working on campus would be taxed at a much higher rate.

Psychology professor Dr. Stan Huey was one of the handful of faculty members supporting the grad students.

"I'm more concerned about us foreclosing the future prospects of many of our best and brightest and basically saying to them, 'We are not going to provide a financial climate that allows you to engage in academic studies,'" he said.

According to USC, there are 24,000 graduate students attending classes. Those relying on tuition waivers, loans and part-time jobs are hoping their voices are loud enough for Congress to hear.
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