Will my college student need to file a tax return?

Are you a college student? Are you muddled if you have to file a tax return? For a few college students, tax filing is mandatory, while for others non-compulsory. Filing a tax by college students depends on factors such as dependency status, income, and other factors. Here are few details for college students to know if they need to file a tax return or no. 


  • Determining filing status 


  • Dependent and independent are the two main criteria for a college student to file a tax return. By filing as a dependent, either parent or guardian claims the dependency exemption. 
  • For filing as an independent, there are few criteria to meet. The tax filer must be married or 24 years old or working. 


  • Scholarships, grants, and fellowship grants – Tax-free 


  • Students receiving fellowship grants, scholarships, and other grants are tax-free if the following conditions satisfy.
  • Being a student in an educational institution that maintains curriculum, regular faculty, attendance with unvarying students, and normal functioning of educational activities is tax-free. 
  • The amount received from scholarship, fellow grants are used for fees and tuition for admission at the university, or books, fees, equipment, and supplies are tax-free. 


  • Scholarships, grants, and fellowship grants – Taxable 


  • Incidental expenses amount such as travel, board, room, and optional equipment fall under taxes. 
  • Amount obtained for research, teaching, and services for scholarship fellowship are taxable. 


  • College students don’t have to pay tax,


  • On condition that they are under 19 by the end of the tax year. If fall under 24 as a student by the end of the year. 
  • If students are living with parents for more than half a year
  • If not provided your support for more than half a year. 
  • Though being a dependent, filing tax based on income is mandatory. 
  • Filing a tax is mandatory if unearned income is more than $1,100.
  • Tax filing is necessary if earned income is more than $12,200.
  • Students must file a tax if gross income is more than $1,100 or earned income with $350. 

Students falling below these income thresholds need not file a tax. 


How college students file a tax

For college students filing a tax is usually with a standard form 1040. The above-said is beneficial for reporting income, filing status, or claiming tax credits. 

  • Tax filing is easy with the IRS free file tool, which assists in easy tax filing for free if your earnings are $69000 or less.
  • The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program or VITA helps in free tax for people making $56000 or less in a year. 
  • Though there are plenty of tax filing options available, the students must check the requirements to use such sources for tax filing. 

The bottom line 

It is best for college students to research the free sources provided by the IRS for tax filing instead of hiring an accountant. The university or the college may also offer free services for tax filing.