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FAFSA and tax question: are college scholarships taxable for student or parent

lifebubblelifebubble Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
As parents we are filling our usual joint 1040 and the fafsa for our two dependent (for IRS purposes) children both of whom get >50% support from us; for FAFSA purposes our D ( freshman undergraduate) is dependent on us, and our S (freshman graduate) is independent. Both children have no earned or unearned income except the following. Our D's 1098-T shows billed tuition and qualified expenses are $29,644, and her scholarships and grants are $30,000. Our son's 1098-T shows billed tuition and qualified expenses are $28,196, and his scholarships and grants are $1,500 (for some reason his federal loan which paid for his full tuition etc does not show on the 1099-T. Both children have had about $1500 in expenses for books (not mentioned in the 1098s).
Even though we had entered all their 1098-T info on the taxact software I use to do our 1040, their scholarships and grants never got transferred automatically as our income, so I guess for us parents it is not a part of our AGI (or can it still be, and should we enter it manually somewhere?). Our main question is: What should be entered on my children's FAFSA on the question "Grants and scholarship Aid reported in the AGI "? This same question needs to be answered for the Parent, and for the student. Should it be 0 for both section in FAFSAs for both children? Finally, do either of my children need to submit an income tax form because of these scholarships and grant?
Post edited by lifebubble on

Replies to: FAFSA and tax question: are college scholarships taxable for student or parent

  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 64,004 Senior Member
    I'm not a tax expert but I believe that overage in scholarships is considered taxable income for your CHILDREN, not you the parent. BUT if it's below the threshold for filing, I don't believe they have to file.

    I believe the amount that is the overage would be the only part included in your kids' AGI. The scholarships for qualified expenses (tuition/fees, etc) is not included in AGI. Only scholarships in excess of qualified expenses are included in the AGI for the student.

    Hopefully someone who is a tax expert will verify this. Our kids' scholarships never exceeded tuition/fees. Therefore NO amount was put on the FAFSA.
  • sk8rmomsk8rmom Registered User Posts: 5,746 Senior Member
    The excess scholarships are reportable on your D's taxes...but since she didn't make enough to exceed her $5700 standard deduction, she doesn't need to file. However, it's likely that you could, and probably should, take a second look at that 1098 and make sure it's only including scholarships/expenses that actually pertain to 2010. Many, many schools report both fall and spring on the 1098T and parents have to adjust that info to reflect tax year, not academic year, figures.

    Also, any excess qualified expenses (tuition, fees, books) are available for you to take an American Opportunity tax credit on your own return. If you want to maximize your tax credit, you might consider treating some of your D's scholarships as having paid non-qualified expenses and move a portion of the qualified expenses to your own return for the AO credit. That would increase her taxable income, but since she had no other income it's not going to result in a tax due for her. IRS Publication 970 explains the AO credit in more detal.
  • kelsmomkelsmom Super Moderator Posts: 14,561 Super Moderator
    Our main question is: What should be entered on my children's FAFSA on the question "Grants and scholarship Aid reported in the AGI "?
    You will ONLY enter an amount here if your child reported income from scholarships on a federal tax return. If not, then you don't report an amount here.

    As far as whether or not the child needs to report any income from grants/scholarships on the federal return, you will need to review the federal tax guidelines for this. This year, my D did claim income from grants/scholarships. She earned a $4000 non-work stipend from summer research. She would not have had to claim this, since she did not have any earned income ... so she was under the filing requirement (would not have owed any taxes). However, in order to claim our American Opportunity Credit, we needed to have her consider some of her regular school term grant/scholarship money as going toward room & board (since she received more money that tuition/fees). We had her move $4000 to room & board, meaning that she had $8000 in income from her regular year grants/scholarships + her stipend. She will owe both federal and state taxes on this amount. We will then get to use our full AOC for the $4000, which saves us a lot more than the taxes she will owe. She is a senior, so no FAFSA for 11-12 ... but if she were filing a FAFSA, she would put $8000 in the "taxable amounts of grants/scholarships reported to the IRS" on her FAFSA. This would allow the formula to exclude those from her income.
  • njbluenjblue Registered User Posts: 100 Junior Member
    Am I the only one who thinks its crazy for students to pay taxes on scholarships? This year my daughter has to pay $700 in taxes after taking the $5700 deduction. In the future years she'll be working in the summer, will loose part of that deduction and will end up paying thousands of dollars in taxes. It bothers the heck out of me knowing the govt is profiting off her scholarship...I feel better now, just needed to vent.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Registered User Posts: 15,702 Senior Member
    What is even stranger is that need based grants are taxable. So a CC student getting the Pell and or other need based govt grants will pay tax on those grants if they exceed tuition and fees.

    Though with what currently seems to be happening with need based federal aid that might not be a problem much longer :(
  • njbluenjblue Registered User Posts: 100 Junior Member
    I didnt realize Pell and other need based grants were also taxable in certain situations. Its just not right...
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Registered User Posts: 15,702 Senior Member
    Yes, as far as taxes are concerned they are treated exactly the same as scholarships.
  • KenderKender Registered User Posts: 1,114 Senior Member
    Scholarships (that do not have need as a condition or where there is no need) being taxable bothers me a whole lot less than need-based aid. Makes me feel ungrateful that I think like that since I know myself and others are very lucky to get the help, but it is need-based for a reason.

    I'm rather frightened by the several hundreds I owe even with my higher deduction allowance since I claim myself. I knew it was coming especially since I can't move around my loans to my qualified expenses (too much of my grant aid is specifically earmarked for tuition/fees), but, truth be told, it still doesn't prepare anyone.
This discussion has been closed.