How to Claim College Students on Federal Taxes

Understanding the rules behind claiming college students for your federal taxes is easy. The rules are straightforward and simple to implement. Typical college students don't work enough hours to accumulate sufficient withholdings to make claiming themselves worth it.

Things You'll Need

  • Student's 1098T form or statement of tuition paid.
  • Student's W-2 forms, if any.
  • Student's statement of student loan interest paid.
  1. Claiming a college student on federal taxes

    • 1
      Qualifications for students can be found in Publication 501
      Qualifications for students can be found in Publication 501

      Read the eligibility requirements. If the student is your dependent and a college student, these requirements must be met in order for you to claim him on your tax return: he must be between the ages of 18 - 24; he must not have provided more than half of his own support; and he must be at least a half-time college student or spent five consecutive months in a full-time study course.

    • 2

      Inform the student that you are claiming him or her as a dependent on your return. Generally, the only refund the student can get is the amount that is in box 2 of her W-2 form, their federal tax withheld from their job, which is usually under $500 a year. Therefore, claiming a student is worth thousands of dollars to you, but usually only a few hundred to the student. If they claim themselves, however, then you can't. Adjusting this after the fact is a time-consuming process.

    • 3

      Deduct tuition payments. When your student receives her 1098T, and you have claimed them as a dependent, you can claim either a tax deduction or tax credit for the tuition paid. If you've paid student loan interest, that may be deductible too.

    • 4
      Sometimes You Aren't Eligible
      Sometimes You Aren't Eligible

      Know the limitations. If you are using the Married Filing Separately status, these deductions may not be available to you. If your dependent student is married, or marries before the end of the year, you cannot claim him as a dependent. Finally, if you can be claimed as a dependent, you cannot claim dependents.

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  • Photo Credit student image by Alexander Zhiltsov from tax forms image by Chad McDermott from cute girl image by Gina Smith from

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