In December 2017, the United States Congress approved a tax plan that would result in a budget deficit estimated to be about $1.5 trillion. This past February, the proposed 2019 budget called for drastic changes that are expected to eliminate certain types of federal student loans, altering the loan repayment safety net, and cutting over $1.4 billion in annual financial aid and funds used to support to low-income students.

These changes mark a new low in what appears to be an attack on higher education in America. The proposed changes to the federal budget appear to diminish the financial accessibility of achieving a postsecondary degree, and appear to be motivated by the need to fill a governmental budget deficit left by a tax plan that has already received a notorious designation for the large tax cuts it provides already wealthy Americans.

As graduate students in a public university, we have already come to recognize that the current powers that be intend to disinvest in higher education in America. During his tenure as governor of New York, for example, Andrew Cuomo has neglected critical investments in the CUNY system, and has year after year neglected to sign a Maintenance of Effort bill that would commit state funding for mandatory costs that the CUNY system faces annually.

This alarming trend of disinvestment in higher education at all levels of government coalesced most recently in the Federal Tax Plan. In December 2017, the so-called “Graduate Student Tax” proposal in the Tax Plan, which aimed to tax tuition waivers was ultimately removed after a great deal of scrutiny; however, intentions to either turn a profit on the education sector or make drastic cuts became clear and may have come to fear the treatment of higher education at the hands of those in power in the federal government.

The Steering Committee of the Doctoral and Graduate Students’ Council condemns the proposed federal reduction in financial aid for students and calls on the administrators of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and CUNY more widely, to advocate to the New York State Senate about the dire need to oppose this aspect of the proposed budget. As these plans come in direct opposition to the mission of CUNY, which is to provide upward mobility through education, we urge not only careful consideration of how such a plan will dismantle the vision of accessibility and quality of public education, we further implore direct action to oppose and stop it.

Moreover,  we call on the Graduate Center administration to ensure that its own Doctoral and Master’s students, many of whom rely on precarious adjunct-wages, are given access to full and adequate funding at the Graduate Center through tuition remission beyond the fifth year, external funding for undocumented students, full funding for all doctoral students, and greater transparency around the Graduate Center’s internal funding opportunities.