Are all funded graduate students functioning under 117(a-c) of the current tax code?

Date: November 2017


Hello Deans,

I appreciate the information that the Graduate School News has provided regarding effects of proposed Tax Plan Reforms.

I wanted to clarify, just to be certain: Are all graduate students functioning under 117(a-c) of the current tax code? Are there any exceptions to this here at Cornell? For example, are graduate students receiving an external tuition scholarship handled under section 117(d)?

I ask because I am going to begin receiving funding through the NSF GRFP beginning Summer 2018, and want to be sure that I am aware of how this proposed Tax Plan Reform could affect me if it does pass and come into effect.

Thanks for the help,

Forward-planning GRF


Dear Forward-planning GRF,

Thank you for your Ask a Dean question and thanks for letting us know that the information in Graduate Announcements on the various proposals for federal tax reform has been useful. We’ll try to post updates as more is known about the various proposals, especially if the reform legislation reaches conference committee, where the final language would be hammered out between the two chambers. At this point, only the House bill proposes repeal of the section you asked about, 117(d), and the Senate bill does not.

Congratulations on your National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRF) that will begin in Summer ’18. We are extremely proud that Cornell has 261 NSF GRF’s for 2017-2018, the most we’ve ever had enrolled at Cornell in any year.

Cornell’s tax counsel indicates that the current interpretation regarding federal tax law and its implications for Cornell funded graduate students (whether on Cornell or NSF fellowship or assistantship) is the same as explained in the November 6, 2017 Graduate Announcements that you’re referring to, so I won’t repeat that here. If the interpretation changes, particularly as new information about tax reform legislation becomes available, we’ll communicate that information. 

I understand that uncertainty regarding the final direction that tax reform may take is unsettling. Cornell’s government relations team continues to work on helping our legislators understand the critical implications for graduate education nationwide and for Cornell specifically regarding proposed tax reform legislation.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School