Republican legislators appear to have dropped a proposal to tax graduate student waivers from Congress’ sweeping tax reform legislation.

House and Senate Republican leaders forged an agreement Wednesday on what would be the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax laws in more than 30 years. The package would give generous tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and more modest tax cuts to low- and middle-income families.

In the original House version of the bill, the tuition waivers that many graduate students receive would be taxed as income. It also would have eliminated a deduction for interest paid on student loans.

The provisions had sparked an outcry across the higher education world; Chris Boswell, the University of Wyoming’s vice president for community and governmental affairs, told the Star-Tribune last week that it would be a “real hardship” on students.

But the updated version seemed to eliminate both of those proposals: It reportedly leaves in place the deduction for interest on student loans, according to two congressional aides. The new bill also would no longer start taxing graduate-school tuition waivers.

Boswell did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday afternoon, but UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said the university was pleased that the legislation would “preserve these important provisions for higher education.”

Sen. John Barrasso, who voted in favor of the Senate’s version of the tax bill, told the Star-Tribune last week that he supported keeping tuition waivers untaxed and the student loan deduction.

Through his spokesman, Sen. Mike Enzi, who was on the conference committee that negotiated the final bill, previously declined to comment on specific parts of the bill. A spokeswoman for Rep. Liz Cheney, who supported the House bill, did not respond when asked if the congresswoman supported the higher education tax changes.

Follow education reporter Seth Klamann on Twitter @SethKlamann

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