Tax Tips For College Students

We are less than a month away from April 17th, Tax Day! For college students, this is a way to receive another refund for the school semester including the Spring refund you just received. Some college students may not work while they are in school, but majority of students are working part-time and full-time jobs while attending classes. With over 52% of undergraduates working, here are some tips about filing your taxes as a student to receive a satisfactory refund.

  • Are Your Parents Claiming You?

First, verify with your parents that they are not placing you on their tax returns. Meaning, if your parent has you as a dependent on their tax return then you cannot file your taxes as normal. You will have to notify the IRS that you are being claimed as a dependent by your parents and you will not be able to get any “credits or deductions your parents are already taking.” While in college, your parents may claim you as dependent until you’re 24 so better talk with them before you file.

  • When To Start Filing Taxes

As an accounting major, I’ve heard once you file your taxes you must file every year. So, I did not start filing my taxes until I graduated with a full-time job, but I was not working during college. It’s different for everyone. If you are still unsure if you have to file your taxes or not, use this tax tool from

  • College-Cost Credits

There are three options you may choose that will benefit a college student who pays out-of-pocket for college: American Opportunity Tax Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, Tuition & Fees Deductions. I believe the American Opportunity Tax Credit is the best option for most college students because you receive up to $2,500 and able to include books and school supplies as a tax credit. The Lifetime Learning Credit helps more graduate students than the other options and you may receive up to $2,000. For the last option, instead of the tax credits for your refund, the tuition deductions lower your taxable income which is helpful for professionals who are making too much, but still in school. If you are not sure if you are eligible for any of the college-cost credits, you may go to IRS website and use their Interactive Tax Assistant.

  • Tax Forms

You should have received Form 1098-T from your university, if not please notify the school. You will need this tuition statement that shows everything the university billed you for the school year. Of course, you will need your W-2 from your workplace. Form 8863, relates to those college-cost credits we just talked about above. Form 1098-E, is for those student loans that you paid interest on during the tax year.

  • Free Tax Assistance

If you have not heard of VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, then you need to search for one in your community. This program offers free service for students or anyone in the community and provide tax guidance and helps file your taxes. At Texas Southern University, I know we offer the VITA program every Saturday and I have used them since I started filing my taxes with no problems. Also, you may use the IRS’s Free File program at no cost.

  • Don’t Get Scammed

Please be aware of tax scams. I know you see a lot of Tax ads, emails, and commercials that say they will get you the money you deserve. You cannot trust everyone during tax season. If you feel skeptical, you can always contact the IRS. I know we never want to be in contact with the IRS, but they are there to help you.

  • Don’t Forget to Sign

Most of the filing mistakes comes from people not signing and dating their tax return. That’s probably why most people file electronically now. So double check your return and please do not forget to sign and date.

Amber Peters91 Posts

Amber Peters is a current MBA candidate and full-time Accountant. She is a proud Alumna of Texas Southern University. “Faith without work means nothing”


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