Dear ASA Members:

I write on behalf of the National Council to call your attention to H.R. 1, the House of Representatives “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” passed by the House on Thursday, 16 November 2017.  Among its many provisions designed to divert tax revenues to businesses and corporations is one that will require students receiving tuition waivers to pay taxes on the value of those waivers.  The effect of this provision on the roughly 145,000 graduate students whose financial aid packages include tuition waivers would be enormously detrimental to their ability to continue their studies. 

We know that many graduate students are already stressed financially and it is clear this bill -- which would raise their taxes by up to 300% -- will substantially increase the difficulty they have in meeting basic needs.  The National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors are among the organizations reporting the damage this bill will do to graduate students and, in turn, to the profession. 

A vibrant and core constituency of the ASA are graduate students; we recognize their central importance to not only the association, but the field of American studies broadly construed. This bill is now with the Ways and Means Committee, which will make amendments before it moves forward.  This means we must act now: we call on our members to contact your elected representatives to make your opposition known --   


Kandice Chuh
President, American Studies Association (2017-18)
Professor of English and American Studies
CUNY/The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue, Room 4406.03
New York, NY  10016

November 17, 2017