Legislative Update: Advocating for Our Students
December 3, 2017
Dear Loyola Community,
Over the past few weeks, the University has been energetically engaged in direct advocacy with congressional leadership and members of the Illinois delegation with the goal of mitigating and modifying provisions of tax reform legislation that pose a major threat to students and universities.
At my direction, Philip Hale, vice president for government affairs, as well as senior administration and members of the Board of Trustees, have engaged vigorously with congressional leaders and members of the Illinois delegation to protect the well-being of our students, the interests of Loyola, and the vitality of higher education, one of America’s strongest assets in the global economy. These efforts are informed and undergirded by detailed analyses from Financial Services on the costs and implications of key provisions in the legislation. We continue to monitor that impact as the provisions evolve.
We have joined in lobbying efforts with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), the American Council of Education (ACE), the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), the Federation of Illinois Independent Colleges and Universities (FIICU), and others to oppose elements of the legislation that have a direct and potentially disastrous effect on students and their families.
We are most concerned about provisions in the House version of the tax bill that will have onerous effects on our students, staff, alumni, and their families: the elimination of the deduction for interest on student loans and the provision to tax graduate tuition waivers as income, which affects our graduate students as well as tuition waivers for employees and their family members.
The former places another barrier for students of modest means in achieving a college degree. The latter places heavy financial burdens on many graduate students and their families, discourages continuing education in important disciplines, and impedes vital classwork and research in which doctoral students play an integral role.
We are encouraged that the Senate bill, passed by a narrow vote this weekend, retains the student benefits the House tax bill eliminates. However, we will continue to advocate against provisions in this bill that negatively impact students and undermine institutions by reducing charitable giving, creating an unprecedented tax on private colleges and universities, increasing costs and regulatory burdens on many colleges and universities, reducing the ability to access tax-exempt bonds for capital projects, and threatening state investment in higher education.
There are indications that if an agreement is reached, the final result will most resemble the Senate version, and we are intensifying our efforts at this critical time. As the process moves toward conference or reconciliation of the two bills, Philip Hale will be in Washington, DC this week to meet with legislators, including members of the House Ways and Means Committee, to continue our advocacy.
I am deeply grateful to Phil and all those who continue to advocate directly at the federal level on behalf of the Dream Act and in shaping a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that keeps higher education affordable and accessible for all students who seek it.
The current tax code helps reduce the cost of higher education for good reason—not just because a higher education benefits individuals, but because it benefits society at large by increasing social and economic mobility and driving innovation and discovery that help to power our competitiveness in a global economy.
We will continue to advocate against any legislation that makes higher education more expensive for students and erodes the financial stability of public and private, two- and four-year colleges and universities. We believe it is possible to offer tax relief in a way that does not increase costs or make a quality higher education less accessible. We will work energetically to that end.
Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD