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maggiej1999
New Member

I am a college student and did not make any income last year but I did receive scholarship and grants to pay for my schooling. Do I need to file taxes?

 
2 Replies
ColeenD3
Employee Tax Expert

I am a college student and did not make any income last year but I did receive scholarship and grants to pay for my schooling. Do I need to file taxes?

First, scholarships & grants are applied to qualified education expenses. The only qualified expenses for scholarships and grants are tuition, books, and lab fees. that's it. If there is any excess, then it's taxable income. In that case, probably, depending on the amount.

 

The minimum income requiring a dependent to file a federal tax return. 2020 filing requirements for dependents under 65: 

  • Earned income of at least $12,400
  • Unearned income (like from investments or trusts) of at least $1,100
  • Self-employment income over $400.

 

 

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Hal_Al
Level 15

I am a college student and did not make any income last year but I did receive scholarship and grants to pay for my schooling. Do I need to file taxes?

Simple answer: If box 5 of your 1098-T does not exceed box 1 by more than $12,400*, you do not need to file a tax return.  

This assumes (as you said), you have no other income.

 

*If your parent  is claiming a tuition credit based on box 1, of the 1098-T,  the $12,400 limit changes to $8,400.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 There is a tax “loop hole” available. The student reports all his scholarship, up to the amount needed to claim the American Opportunity Credit (AOC), as income on his return. That way, the parents  (or himself, if he is not a dependent) can claim the tuition credit on their return. They can do this because that much tuition was no longer paid by "tax free" scholarship.  You cannot do this if the school’s billing statement specifically shows the scholarships being applied to tuition or if the conditions of the grant are that it be used to pay for qualified expenses.

Using an example: Student has $10,000 in box 5 of the 1098-T and $8000 in box 1. At first glance he/she has $2000 of taxable income and nobody can claim the American opportunity credit. But if she reports $6000 as income on her return, the parents can claim $4000 of qualified expenses on their return.

 

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