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Types of Financial Aid:

Scholarships: Understanding your financial aid award

  • Scholarships are generally given to graduate students to cover tuition and fees.
  • If there is no requirement for service to the university or a third party, a scholarship is not subject to state, local, or federal taxes.
  • Most scholarships are applied directly to student fees.
  • No W-2 form is issued by UAB.

Fellowships: Understanding your financial aid award

  • If no service is required to receive the fellowship, it is exempt from state and local taxes.
  • Any portion of a fellowship in excess of tuition, fees, and required books and equipment is subject to federal income tax.
  • UAB does not withhold taxes from fellowships or issue W-2 forms.
  • Students are advised to pay quarterly estimated federal taxes.

Assistantships: Understanding your financial aid award

  • Assistantships are compensation given for work performed.
  • The most common forms of assistantships are teaching and research assistantships.
  • These awards are not exempt from taxes.
  • UAB will deduct taxes from checks and issue a W-2 form at the end of the year.

What about FICA?

  • FICA is the social security tax.
  • Fellowships are exempt from FICA.
  • Graduate students receiving financial aid are exempt from FICA if they are enrolled in at least 3 credit hours of classes each quarter the exemption is claimed.
  • You must enroll on time to be eligible.
  • There are no limits on the number of hours worked.

What is the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit?

The lifetime learning tax credit benefits graduate students.

  • After June 30, 1998, anyone paying tuition will be eligible for a tax credit.
  • Students will be able to take a tax credit of up to $1,000 on 1998 tax returns for tuition payments made in 1998. The tax credit is 20% of up to $5,000 in 1998 and 1999. It increases to 20% of up to $10,000 in 2000.

Interest on Student Loans

Beginning in 1998, interest paid on student loans will be tax deductible for up to 5 years of interest payments. There are restrictions. The more money you make, the less interest you can deduct. Students will have to itemize deductions to take advantage of this. Lenders will be required to report to students and the IRS if the interest on a student loan exceeds $600 per year.

Some Common Fellowship Programs

  • Graduate School Fellowships
  • Comprehensive Minority Faculty Development Fellowships
  • Ford Foundation Fellowships
  • GAANN Fellowships
  • NSF Fellowships
  • NIH Fellowships

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How do I know what kind of financial aid I have?

Answer: You should receive a letter from your department or program director describing the nature of the award. Any time the award changes, the letter should be reissued. If you don't have a letter, ask for one.

2. I am paid on my advisor's research grant, but I am just working on my thesis. Why are taxes being deducted?

Answer: You have an assistantship. A research grant is awarded to the university for the purpose of conducting research, not training. Your advisor cannot give you fellowship support from a research grant.

3. If I have a fellowship, how do I pay estimated taxes?

Answer: Estimated taxes are due four times per year, starting on April 15th. You can get the forms, 1297 Publ 505 Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax(560K, Adobe PDF) and 1196 Publ 520 Scholarships and Fellowships (75K, Adobe PDF), from the IRS website--http://www.irs.gov/

4. I have a fellowship, but I supplement it by teaching a class. Will any taxes be deducted from my check?

Answer: Taxes will be deducted only from the portion of your funding that is a teaching assistantship. Because this is compensation, it is fully taxable.

5. I am on an NIH Training Grant. Is this a fellowship or an assistantship?

Answer: NIH Training Grants (e.g.,T32, T35, T42) are treated like fellowships.

DISCLAIMER: The GSG cannot provide legal tax advice to students. The above information is not intended to be legal or professional advice and comes without warranty. Students should consult with a licensed tax professional or visit the IRS website for up to date tax information and guidelines.