There’s no logical reason as to why these two caveats have found their way into the House bill, particularly when the very same piece of legislation gives enormous tax cuts to the wealthiest corporations.
As eloquently explained in an Op-Ed for The New York Times, a graduate student at MIT said that this will “make meeting living expenses nearly impossible, barring all but the wealthiest students from pursuing a PhD.”
They add that “the students who will be hit hardest — many of whom will almost certainly have to leave academia entirely — are those from communities that are already underrepresented in higher education.”
Doing a PhD in any subject is difficult, and it’s estimated that half of those undertaking one suffer from some form of psychological distress. It’s not just the hard work of becoming essentially a world expert on your chosen focus, but also the isolation, poor pay, and career uncertainty that comes along with it.
Yes, it’s a completely unique and often very enriching experience, and if you make it, you get a doctorate out of it. That’s not to say it isn’t extremely trying, though, and no one would argue that making it more difficult for students to work their way through a PhD is a good idea.
That, unfortunately, is precisely what the new GOP tax bill does. If you want the brightest American citizens to become scientists, then this will only prevent all but the wealthiest from doing so.