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Private Ohio Colleges Could Face Endowment Tax Under House GOP Plan

Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University is one of five Ohio schools that could be impacted by the tax proposal.

As GOP Senators revealed their tax reform plan in Washington today, members of the House Ways and Means committee moved forward with amendments to their version of the bill. The House plan includes at least one provision that has university presidents up in arms.

The House GOP tax reform bill released last week would place a 1.4 percent tax on the endowments of private colleges and universities. On Thursday, a House committee approved an amendment to the bill that expands the tax beyond the universities themselves to affiliated non-profit organizations.

The new tax would affect five Ohio schools: Case Western Reserve Universitythe College of WoosterOhio WesleyanKenyon, and Oberlin. All five have endowments larger than $100,000 per student.

Oberlin’s endowmenet totals more than $850 million, but school president Carmen Twillie Ambar says the school isn’t just sitting on the money.

"The notion that we should be taxed, I just find it troubling, particularly since part of our work is to try to elevate the middle class, to try to elevate students that come from economic disadvantage,” Ambar says.

Oberlin is one of the most expensive private colleges in the state, but Ambar says the school has historically worked to provide access and financial aid to low-income students.

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.