The below was emailed to the Bryn Mawr community on Nov. 9, 2017
Dear Bryn Mawr community members,
The U.S. Congress is currently considering a tax reform bill, H.R. 1 The Tax Cut and Jobs Act, that will have a significant impact on higher education in general and therefore on Bryn Mawr.
The provisions of the bill include:
- An annual "excise tax" on endowment earnings, slated to be 1.4% in the bill now being debated in the House with the Senate reportedly considering a 2% version. At Bryn Mawr, that tax would amount to a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars that now support the budget.
- An end to various tuition credits for students.
- An end to the non-taxation of tuition benefits for employees.
- A repeal of the student loan interest deduction, used by three of ten Americans paying off student loans.
- An end to access to the market for tax-free bonds, which has been a critical means for universities and colleges to finance major capital projects and infrastructure improvements, such as the current phase of Park Science renovation.
- An end for most taxpayers to itemized deductions, which, along with a proposed repeal of the estate tax, will have a serious negative effect on philanthropy for all non-profit organizations.
There are other provisions that will hurt universities (including public universities), their students, and their alumnae/i, both directly and indirectly.
In general, it is my policy to avoid taking positions on proposed legislation on behalf of the College. As I discussed with the Board of Trustees last spring, I have made rare exceptions when a proposed law will have a significant impact on Bryn Mawr’s educational mission. The proposed tax bill represents a threat to our ability to carry out our core mission of offering an exceptional education to students of all economic backgrounds.
Kim Benston of Haverford, Valerie Smith of Swarthmore, and I have sent a letter to our Congressional representatives expressing our opposition to elements of this bill that will have a negative impact on our fundamental educational mission and that of other colleges and universities. I have also shared information about our concerns about the bill with our trustees and our alumnae/i, and have invited them to contact their representatives should they wish to comment on the proposed legislation.
Over the past year, many members of the community have contributed to careful review of the College’s budget. We build contingency funding into our budget models to address unexpected financial challenges, and have done good fiscal planning. I am particularly grateful for our careful management of resources at a moment such as this.
We of course do not know what the final bill will look like or if the bill will pass both chambers of Congress. I know you join me in hoping that our representatives will recognize the value of the work carried out by American higher education and the value of supporting access for students of all backgrounds.