Tax Information for 2015
Financial Aid, Income Taxes and the FAFSA
The following is general information regarding student financial aid and income taxes, which should be used by students when completing federal and state tax returns.
1. Any portion of grants and scholarships (such as PELL, Access Missouri, SEOG, Work Study, C of O Grant, etc.) which pays for Cost of Education (tuition), fees or books is not taxable, and not considered taxable income on the student’s federal or state tax return.
2. Any portion of grants and scholarships (outside scholarships, Summer Work Program, academic, athletic, etc.) which pays for room and board is taxable and must be reported as taxable income on the student’s federal and state tax return, if the student is required to file a return. Students who worked on campus during summer 2015, to pay for 2015-16 room and board, must consider the value of summer work as taxable income, because such work is considered an educational scholarship. The value for the 12 weeks worked in summer 2015 is $8,938 ($6,500 for 2015-16 room and board plus $2,438 for room and board during the 12 weeks in summer 2015). The value for either 6 week session worked in summer 2015 is $4,469 ($3,250 for fall 2015 plus $1,219 for room and board during the 6 weeks in summer). The appropriate amount should be noted as "taxable scholarship” on the student’s tax return for 2015. Educational loans are considered to be neither a grant nor a scholarship, and are not taxable.
3. The American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning tax credits are available for 2015 qualified educational expenses. (Note the Health/Technology/Service fee and room & board are not a qualified expense for any of the credits.) Also see the 1098-T FAQs below and the instructions for IRS Form 8863.
4. Any student financial aid described above which is determined to be taxable income should be included on the student’s federal and state tax returns, as required by law.
College of the Ozarks Room and Board Scholarship on the FAFSA
If the student filed a tax return, the scholarship for room and board at C of O should be included on the FAFSA in the Adjusted Gross Income, Income Earned from Work and Student Additional Financial Information (question 44d on FAFSA).
Tax Preparation Assistance
College of the Ozarks does not offer individual tax-related counsel to students. If you require assistance with tax preparation, please visit the Tax Preparation Resources page for more information regarding qualifications and locations.
1098 Frequently Asked Questions for College of the Ozarks
1098T FAQ -- Calendar Year 2015
Q1. What is Form 1098T? It is an informational statement that colleges are required to provide to certain students (and the IRS) to report the amount of qualified expenses billed, all scholarships and grants received (for both qualified and non-qualified expenses), and whether the student was enrolled at least-half time.
Q2. What is a qualified/non-qualified expense? Qualified expenses are those eligible for a tax credit or deduction, while non-qualified expenses are not eligible for a credit or deduction. C of O’s Cost of Education, part-time class charges, and certain class-related fees are qualified expenses (but see Q3 & Q5), but room and board and the HTS fee are non-qualified expenses. Qualified expenses billed to C of O students in 2015 are reported in Box 2.
Q3. Who should receive a 1098T? Colleges are not required to provide a 1098T to students whose qualified expenses are waived or paid entirely with scholarships or grants. Because the College provides 100% of the Cost of Education for full-time students through a combination of the work program, federal, state, and institutional funds, most C of O students will not receive a 1098T. Students who paid for work hours, part-time class charges, or required class fees should receive a 1098T.
Q4. Since I received Form 1098T, will I qualify for a tax credit? Not necessarily. Two education tax credits are in place for 2015: The American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit (both use IRS Form 8863). Under IRS guidelines, students or parents may claim an education tax credit based only on qualified expenses actually paid by the student or parent during the year.
(NOTE: amounts paid by students or parents are not reported on the 1098T.)
Q5. Does the amount in Box 2 of my 1098T equal the qualified expenses I can claim as a tax credit? No. The College is required to report the total qualified expenses billed (Box 2) and all scholarship/grant amounts applied to a student’s account (Box 5), but you must review your payment records to determine if you paid for any qualified expenses. Examples of payments for qualified expenses include cash payments for work hours, part-time class charges, and required class fees. Students can obtain payment history in My Account Info/My Account Balances in Campusweb.
Q6. Can I claim a tax credit or a deduction for the amount I paid for room and board? No. Room and board charges are defined as non-qualified expenses. Payments for non-qualified expenses are not eligible for a tax credit or a tax deduction.
Q7. Are room and board scholarships taxable? Yes. Any scholarship used to pay for non-qualified expenses is considered taxable income to the student and should be reported on the student’s tax return (this includes the Summer Work Program and any other room and board scholarship). The IRS does not require colleges to issue any type of form to students showing these taxable scholarship amounts. More information regarding the taxability of the Summer Work Program and any other room and board scholarship can be found at www.cofo.edu, under Admissions/Financial Aid/Tax Information.
Q8. Who should I contact with questions? For questions about the amounts reported on the 1098T, contact Cash Accounts at ext. 2501 to set up an appointment. College of the Ozarks cannot provide tax advice to students or parents. For questions about tax credit eligibility or filing for the tax credit, consult Publication 970, the instructions for Form 8863, your tax advisor, or the IRS.