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Higher Education is Critical to US Competitiveness

Published December 08, 2017

Higher Education is Critical to US Competitiveness

The following is a statement from the New York Academy of Sciences on the tax reform bill currently before Congress.

America’s achievements in science and technology—the envy of the world, and the basis of much of our economic growth—are largely attributable to US research universities, which can legitimately lay claim to innovations that have created millions of well-paying jobs. For the past 25 years, a concerted effort has been made by both the public and private sectors to encourage students to earn STEM degrees – both graduate and undergraduate -- in order to build the necessary talent pipeline for the 21st century job market. Indeed, many companies now routinely require advanced degrees as part of their hiring requirements. The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, recently passed by the House and Senate and currently in the reconciliation process, puts our STEM pipeline in jeopardy at a time when American industry is already concerned about the lack of qualified candidates to fill the many jobs that are available.

The final outcome of the Bill is yet to be determined, but given that America’s future workforce will require a deep bench of talent—with profound expertise in STEM fields—the elimination of the graduate student tuition waiver, student loan interest deductions, employee tuition waivers, and the Lifetime Learning Credit, as well as proposed restructuring of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, is not in the nation’s best interest for future economic and job growth.

The New York Academy of Sciences is proud to claim more than 8,000 graduate/postdoc Members, representing over 100 universities, research institutions, and teaching hospitals. These early career investigators are already working on important research that will maintain America’s leadership in discovery and innovation in the decades to come. It is crucial that our world-class university system continue to fulfill its nonprofit educational and research roles, and that the opportunity to earn an advanced degree remain open to individuals from diverse backgrounds, not simply the independently wealthy.

As an organization whose mission is to drive innovation by advancing scientific research, education and policy, the New York Academy of Sciences believes that the future of American economic growth is inexorably linked to a vibrant and dynamic higher education system and a STEM literate workforce.

As it currently stands, this Bill has the potential to put the prospect of higher education permanently out of reach for a vast section of the population – resulting in far-reaching consequences for the American economy, civil society, and the world.