Dear Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi:
On behalf of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), I write to strongly oppose H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
As currently written, this legislation will adversely affect the 64,000-plus students enrolled in the 140 accredited colleges and schools of pharmacy. The education related proposals in the bill will undermine the stability of higher education in the United States and create additional barriers of entry into health professions education. The health of our nation should not be put at risk as part of any modification of our tax policies.
Our main objections are in Section 1204 and Section 4969:
Under current rules, students are allowed to deduct up to $2,500 of the interest paid on their loans. According to the IRS1, more than 12 million borrowers claimed this tax deduction in 2015. This represents approximately 3 in 10 of all Americans with student loan debt. Health profession students, such as those in pharmacy schools, incur far more debt than other students. Repealing this deduction could increase their taxable incomes, make it more difficult to repay their loans, and make health professions less attractive to potential students.
Currently, tuition reductions or tuition waivers provided by educational institutions to their employees are excluded from income. Many health profession students, including those in M.S. and Ph.D. programs, receive tuition waivers due to their service as teaching or research assistants. These waivers offset the costs of their education and also reduce their tax liability. Eliminating this reduction would devastate both students, who rely on such waivers to fund their education, and pharmacy schools, who utilize these waivers as part of the education and training of future pharmaceutical scientists. In addition, these waivers support the research conducted at schools and colleges of pharmacy. Eliminating the waivers will be a detriment to the biomedical research investments made by Congress and the private sector.
The proposal to tax the yield of university endowments will negatively impact the ability for our schools and colleges of pharmacy to provide scholarships for students, decrease funds used to support faculty and limit resources used to support student development.
Pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists are on the front line of healthcare and remain critical to the health of our nation during many health crises, including the ongoing opioid epidemic. It is imperative that we do not place additional barriers of entry to health professions programs, including pharmacy education, and strengthen rather than weaken support for students as they further their education. We strongly urge you to reconsider the repeal of the aforementioned education related proposals, as both the House and Senate continue their work to reinforce the commitment that Congress has to
strengthening professional and graduate education in America.
Lucinda Maine, R.Ph., Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and CEO
Cc: Members of U.S House of Representatives
1 Statistics of Income – 2015 Individual Income Tax Returns Line Item Estimates, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, DC
2 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2011-2012 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study