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Higher Ed in the News

Rhode Island mayor wants to tax college students

May 18, 2009

The mayor of Providence wants to enact a $150-per-semester tax on the full-time students at Brown University and three other private colleges in the city, saying they use resources and should help ease the burden on struggling taxpayers.

Providence Mayor David Cicilline said the fee would raise between $6 million and $8 million a year for the city, which is facing a $17 million deficit. If enacted, it would apparently be the first time a U.S. city has directly taxed students just for being enrolled.

Under the current proposal, students at Rhode Island College, a state school in the city, and the Providence campus of the University of Rhode Island would be exempt.

A city head tax on students would need approval from both the City Council and state lawmakers. However, a similar measure failed in the state Legislature in 2005, and Rhode Island's colleges are likely to fight this proposal, too.

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