Federal Tax Reform Update

Dear University Community:

The final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Congress passed yesterday and now awaits the president’s signature, includes a number of provisions affecting higher education. Fortunately, many of the most adverse provisions were not included in the final bill, an outcome undoubtedly influenced by highly engaged students, faculty, staff and supporters at the University of Pittsburgh and other academic institutions around the country.

In 2017 alone, our Pitt community sent nearly 60,000 messages to our leaders in Harrisburg and Washington, including nearly 6,000 emails to elected officials on this very issue. Without question, your voice has made a powerful difference in our push to preserve affordability and access in higher education, and I want to thank you for your support.      

The final bill maintains many of the existing policies and benefits we advocated to keep, including:

  • Section 117(d)(5), the tax exclusion for graduate student tuition waivers;
  • Student Loan Interest Deduction;
  • Tax exclusion for tuition waivers of university employees and dependents;
  • Section 127, employer-provided tuition assistance;
  • The Lifetime Learning Credit;
  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit;
  • The Hope Scholarship Credit; and
  • Private Activity Bonds.

Though we are pleased that Congress left these items unchanged, it is important to note that their final package raises a number of concerns. For one, we are concerned of the effect that this bill will have on future spending, especially in areas that are key to the university, such as support for federal student loan and grant programs and federal research and development support. We are also concerned with changes to unrelated business income taxes, a new tax on private university endowments, and the elimination of charitable deductions related to athletic tickets.

For the latest information, please keep an eye on with.pitt.edu, where we will continue posting information about staying informed and involved.

Thank you—again—for your continued support and commitment to Pitt. 

With gratitude,

Patrick Gallagher