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Taxation of Graduate Tuition Waivers

Will my graduate tuition waiver be counted as income for tax purposes?

Students should consult with a tax professional to determine if any portion of their tuition waiver is exempt from taxes. All Graduate tuition and fee waivers are taxable unless exempt under the Internal Revenue Code.  For MassArt to be in compliance with Internal Revenue Code (IRC) §127, all graduate tuition fee waivers are fully taxable: unless per calendar year (January to December)  Graduate tuition fee waivers provided as benefits to eligible employees and graduate assistant (GAs) are excluded from taxable income. If the amount of the fee waiver exceeds $5,250, the excess is deemed income under the IRC and taxed accordingly. Are there individuals who are allowed to exclude their graduate tuition waivers from their income? IRC allows the exemption from taxation of tuition waivers above $5,250 for individuals whose education is job related (§132) or graduate students conducting teaching or research activities (§117).

MassArt considers a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTAs) as a graduate student who is involved in the following teaching or research activities.

  • Teaching: For University tax purposes, teaching activities may include, but are not limited to, the following: providing or coordinating classroom instruction, including lab, studio or discussion sessions; tutoring students; grading tests and assignments; developing instructional materials; providing artistic instruction; accompanying/coaching musical or vocal performances; and proctoring exams.
  • Research: For MassArt tax purposes, research activities may include, but are not limited to, the following examples of applying and mastering research concepts, practices, or methods of scholarship: conducting experiments; organizing or analyzing data; presenting findings; collaborating with others in preparing publications; and conducting institutional research for an academic or administrative unit.