November 15, 2017

A Tax Bill Students Can’t Afford

Making higher education affordable and accessible to all should always be a national priority. But a dangerous tax bill looming in Washington ignores that imperative by dealing a severe economic blow to private colleges and — most importantly — our students and families.   

Last week, on behalf of all 36 North Carolina Independent College and University presidents, I joined NCICU President Hope Williams and my other executive committee colleagues in signing a letter expressing our grave concerns about the bill to Rep. Butterfield and all U.S. House representatives. When you read the letter, you’ll quickly understand why it’s so important that H.R. 1 is defeated.

The proposed tax bill is a double-edged sword that creates a daunting disincentive for choosing a private college education. Elimination of college loan interest tax credits would greatly exacerbate student debt challenges — during college and after graduation. At the same time, private colleges would be gouged by new endowment taxes while losing access to Private Activity Bonds that are crucial to the enhancement and expansion of campus infrastructures.

The net result would be far greater out-of-pocket burden for students and far fewer institutional resources available to meet their growing financial needs. Further, private colleges would likely need to pursue tuition increases in an effort to sustain and grow institutional quality. That would be a nightmare scenario as private education would become out-of-reach for increasing numbers of highly capable and deserving students.

Further reducing access to private higher education would not only be grossly unjust to students and greatly concerning for our colleges, it would be bad news for North Carolina and the nation. Our only way forward in these times is with more — and equitable — access to education, not less. It is essential that both public and private institutions of higher learning are well positioned to thrive. Collectively our distinctive missions provide a variety of excellent educational options that benefit a rich diversity of students. Fostering their wide breadth of talents and perspectives is critical to empowering a better-informed, more cohesive generation of globally responsible leaders who will work together to serve the world’s greater good.

The world is clearly in desperate need of servant leaders and problem-solvers driven by the Core Values we aspire to at Guilford College. Passing tax legislation that further limits educational access to the privileged few would be a major step backward for our country.

I ask that you join me in voicing your opposition to this legislation. If you haven’t contacted your representative, please do so – quickly. Current and future Guilford College students are counting on your support.