Is Your Scholarship Taxable?
Your scholarship may be taxable.
By Roxana Hadad
March 04, 2009
Congratulations! You’ve won a scholarship! You’ll want to call Mom, Dad, Grandma, Cousin Bob … and Uncle Sam. Your scholarship may count as income; if so, it will be taxed. To make sure you’re ready for tax-time, find out if your award is taxable and what you need to do to file your return.
Tax-free Scholarships and Fellowships
A scholarship is tax-free if:
• You are a full-time or part-time candidate for a degree at a primary, secondary or accredited post-secondary institution.
• The award covers tuition and fees to enroll in or attend an educational institution.
• The award covers fees, books, supplies and equipment required for your courses.
The award is tax-free only as long as you use it for the purposes outlined above.
Taxable Scholarships and Fellowships
Your scholarship is taxed if it is used to cover:
- Room and board
- Clerical help
If your award, for example, covers both tuition and room and board, the amount you use for tuition is tax-free, while the amount you use for room and board is taxable. If you need to make this adjustment, you may have to adjust other parts of your return as well. For example, if you are filing a deduction for educational expenses, you must reduce the amount of your deduction by the tax-free amount of the award.
What you use your scholarship money for may determine whether you pay taxes on it.
Making It Legal: Reporting Taxable Awards
If your only income is a tax-free scholarship or fellowship, you’re in the clear. You don’t have to file a tax return or report the award. On the other hand, if all or part of your scholarship is taxable and if that money is not recorded on your W2 form, you must report it:
If you are filing a 1040EZ form, print “SCH” and the taxable amount to the right of the words “W-2 form(s)” on line 1.
For the 1040 or 1040A forms, write “SCH” and the taxable amount on the dotted line next to line 7 on the 1040 or in the space to the left of line 7 on the 1040A.
If you’re not sure if your award is taxable, ask the organization that sponsored the award. They may have information from the IRS regarding your award’s tax status.
You can also seek information directly from the Internal Revenue Service. Check the IRS Web site, call the IRS help line at 1-800-829-1040, or download IRS Publication 970, which covers the tax benefits of education. If you have questions, ask as soon as possible to get your answers before tax time.
Being informed about the tax procedures for scholarships will make your life easier come April 15. Find out what’s taxable and report it correctly. You want to stay on your Uncle Sam’s good side.