TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / General Tax Tips / Do You Have to Claim Pell Grant Money on Your Taxes?

Do You Have to Claim Pell Grant Money on Your Taxes?

Updated for Tax Year 2016


OVERVIEW

The IRS treats a Pell grant as a scholarship, which means it's possible that you'll have to report the grant money on your tax return and maybe even pay income tax on the money.


Pell Grants

Receiving a Pell grant as part of your federal student aid award can minimize, or even eliminate, the financial burden of paying the tuition to enroll in school. In some cases, the Internal Revenue Service can require that you claim the Pell grant money as income on your tax return. However, if you follow a few simple rules, you can receive your Pell grant money entirely tax free.

do i need to claim pell grant on my taxes

Tax-free Pell Grants

A Pell grant does not need to be reported on your tax return, if you satisfy two IRS requirements that apply to all scholarships and grants:

  1. You must be enrolled in a program as a degree candidate, or you must be pursuing a training program that prepares you for specific types of employment upon completion.
  2. You must use the Pell grant only to pay for “qualified education expenses.”

Qualified education expenses

Any portion of your Pell grant that is not spent on qualified education expenses is required to be reported on your tax return. Qualified education expenses include tuition and fee payments, and the books, supplies, and equipment required for your courses.

For example, if you take a biology class and the professor requires all students to purchase a specific textbook, the cost of the book is a qualified expense. If the professor only recommends the book, it is not a qualified education expense.

If you use your Pell grant to pay for room and board charges, or to travel to your permanent home on weekends or holidays, then the amount will be considered taxable income.

How to report nonqualified Pell grant expenses on your tax return

If you don't use all of your Pell grant money for qualified education expenses, you need to determine how much of the grant to report on your tax return. Schools commonly combine all student charges in one account. For example, suppose your expenses for the semester are $4,000 for tuition, $2,000 for room and board, and $500 for required textbooks. If you receive a $3,000 Pell grant and use it on tuition and/or books, you won’t have to report any of it on your tax return. If you receive a $5,000 grant, $500 of it will be taxable since you only incurred $4,500 of qualified expenses ($4,000 for tuition and $500 for required books).

Regardless of the tax form you use, you need to report the $500 in the above example on the “wages and salary” line and enter “SCH” to the left of the amount. Just because you report the Pell grant as taxable income, doesn’t necessarily mean you will pay tax on it. This depends on other factors such as the amount of other income you report, your filing status, and the deductions and credits you’re eligible for.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99$34.99*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Free 1040EZ/1040A + Free State offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; Offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • TurboTax Self-Employed ExpenseFinder: ExpenseFinder™ is available year round as a feature of QuickBooks Self-Employed (available with TurboTax Self-Employed, see the “QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed” details below.) ExpenseFinder™ expected late January (late February for mobile app). ExpenseFinder™ not available from within TurboTax Self-Employed for people with certain types of expenses and tax situations including paying contractors or employees, home office or vehicle actuals, inventory, self employed health insurance or retirement, asset depreciation, sale of property or vehicles, and farm income. Availability of historical transactions for import may vary by financial institution. Not available for all financial institutions or all credit cards.
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer: File your 2016 TurboTax Self-Employed return by 4/18/17 and receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed until 4/30/18. Activation required. Log in to QuickBooks Self-Employed by 7/15/17 via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax; e-mail address used for activation and log-in. Offer valid only for new QuickBooks Self-Employed customers. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison.
    • When you use TurboTax Self-Employed to file your 2017 taxes, you will have the option to renew your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription. If you do not file with TurboTax Self-Employed by 4/18/18, you will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 4/30/18 for another year at the then-current annual subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section.
  • Pays for itself: In order to pay for the price of TurboTax Self-Employed, you will need at least $600 in deductible business expenses. This calculation is based on the self-employment tax income rate for tax year 2016.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Expert Help, Tax Advice and SmartLook: Included with Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed (via phone or SmartLook); not included with Federal Free Edition. Feature availability varies by device. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.
  • TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice via phone is included with Premier and Home & Business; fees apply for Basic and Deluxe customers. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2015 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2011 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.