Columbia University offers the following information to assist students with their yearly tax filing obligations. If you need assistance understanding annual U.S. tax obligations, review the Taxes topic available on iGrad to learn more.
Reminder: The United States tax filing deadline for individuals is every April.
Social Security Numbers
If you have a U.S. social security number (SSN), this is your taxpayer ID number. All U.S. citizens are assigned a social security number at birth. Any social security number is assigned by the federal government and should never be shared unless you trust the entity requesting it, such as a government or student loan application.
- An SSN is not the same as the nine-digit ID number assigned by Columbia that is found on your school ID card.
In general, international students and scholars need to have specially authorized employment to apply for a social security number (SSN). The following exceptions also allow for international students to seek SSNs:
- J-1 visa holders (exchange visitors), which are select students, researchers, and short-term scholars, are eligible to apply for an SSN without authorized employment.
- F-1 visa holders are doctoral fellowship stipend recipient students who do not work the first year of their program but will later have teaching and research responsibilities. These students may also seek an SSN.
Taxpayer ID Numbers
If the above employment or visa conditions do not allow for an international student to seek a social security number, then international students may need to seek an individual taxpayer ID number (ITIN) if they expect to receive payments from the university while in the U.S. Stipends, scholarships, grants, and other such payments may be considered taxable income for international students. The University is required to report the payment of stipends and on-campus employment to the IRS and to withhold local, state, and federal taxes.
- To ensure that the University will be notified and report the correct IRS-issued number, enter the following address on Line #3 of the W-7 form:
- Columbia University Human Resources
615 W. 131 Street
New York, NY 10027
- Columbia University Human Resources
Filing U.S. Taxes
As a result of receiving income in the U.S., international students become responsible for filing U.S. taxes, even if they are residents of another country. It is an international student's responsibility to become familiar with U.S. tax regulations for non-resident students if you expect to make any form of income in the U.S.
Please visit the International Students & Scholars Office to learn more about responsibilities with filing taxes as an international student.
A scholarship/fellowship payment received by a candidate for a degree may not be taxable income to the student if it is used for "qualified expenses." Qualified expenses are defined by the IRS and include tuition and required fees, and/or expenses for books, supplies, and equipment required of all students in the course. These payments do not need to be reported to the IRS by the student or the University.
A scholarship/fellowship used for expenses other than qualified expenses may be taxable income. Taxable scholarships are generally referred to as stipends and are payments for which no services are rendered or required. Examples of stipends are payments that can be used for living and incidental expenses such as room and board, travel, non-required books, and personal computers, etc.
While stipends may be taxable income to students, based on IRS rules, the University is not required to withhold tax on stipends for domestic students or provide students with tax Form 1099. Students are responsible for reporting taxable stipend payments along with any other payments they receive, and for remitting any tax due with their personal income tax return. Foreign students who are non-resident aliens will receive a Form 1042-S reporting taxable stipends. U.S. withholding tax may apply.
Students should maintain a record of the stipend payments they have received during the calendar year (January 1 to December 31), remembering to include payments they received by check via Accounts Payable. The total annual payments received can also be obtained from the departmental award letter(s). However, since these award letters are generally based on academic year as opposed to the calendar, you may need to reference the award letters for multiple academic years to ascertain the total calendar year amount.
The federal government provides two types of educational tax credits for eligible students or parents who paid tuition and associated fees during the tax year.
Room and board, books, insurance, and other personal expenses are generally not eligible for tax credits.
Click the button below to learn more about the 1098-T form associated with educational tax credits.
The purpose of the 1098-T form is for higher education institutions to provide information that will assist eligible students or parents with filing for educational tax credits on a federal tax return.
Who will receive a 1098-T?
Only independent U.S. residents (e.g., U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or resident aliens) who have social security numbers on file and have paid tuition and fees will receive this form. If you are not a U.S. resident as described, you do not need this form and do not need to read any further.
- Please note that the 1098-T form itself may not be sufficient information to file for tax credits, and your tax adviser may need other records from you. Additionally, the 1098-T form is not an income reporting document nor a complete summary of your student account, the latter of which is available in SSOL.
What if my parents claim me as a dependent on their tax return?
Parents who claim students as dependents will also claim the educational tax credit instead of the student. The parents will need to use the 1098-T form for their tax filing purposes.
If a parent claims a student as a dependent and the student contests the claim, the student will need to refer all questions and complaints to the IRS or a professional tax filer or accountant. The University cannot provide guidance on these matters.
What if my financial aid package covers my tuition and fees?
1098-T forms will not be issued if a student’s total qualified tuition and related fee expenses (which would be reported in Box 1) are entirely paid by scholarships or grants, or are waived (which would be reported in Box 5). In other words, if total aid funding is equal to or greater than tuition and fees charges, you will not receive a form and you do not qualify for an educational tax credit.
What if I am a nonresident alien who has been paid by the university?
Students with nonresident alien status will only receive a form by request if a valid tax identification number is on file. Send an e-mail with the subject header 1098-T Form Request—International Student to [email protected]. You can learn more about requesting a tax identification number from ISSO.
When will I receive my 1098-T form?
If you are eligible, the form will be made available online or sent by mail by January 31st. U.S. mail may delay physical receipt so you are strongly encouraged to select for online delivery.
Students who wish to receive their 1098-T form electronically must provide consent electronically. If you wish to receive your 1098-T form electronically, take the following actions:
1) Log into Student Services Online.
2) Click on the 1098-T Tax Form link under Your Account.
3) Click on Continue With TSC site.
4) Click on Accept Consent and then click Submit.
Students and parents who pay interest on a student loan during the tax year may be able to deduct that interest from their taxable income. A student loan servicer will mail or make available electronically a 1098-E form if a student or parent pays $600 or more in student loan interest during the tax year.