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Are scholarships and grants subject to federal income tax?

That depends on several factors. If you are a candidate for a degree at an educational institution and receive a qualified scholarship or fellowship that you use for tuition, fees, and required expenses (e.g., books, supplies, and equipment), you need not include the scholarship amount in your taxable income. (Note: the IRS has provided specific guidance regarding the definitions of educational institution and degree candidate.)

However, if your scholarship includes money for room, board, and other incidentals, those dollars are taxable. If you are not a candidate for a degree, your entire scholarship is taxable. If you receive a grant in exchange for performing required services for the school (e.g., working as a teaching assistant), the amount of the grant is generally taxable.

Note: Different rules may apply to tuition reductions and reimbursements.