The following is intended to serve as a general guide. QuestBridge Scholars come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and as such this guide is not able to address every specific situation.
Should you have any further questions regarding the following steps, we encourage you to reach out to your financial aid office, tax office on campus (should your school have one), or other campus resources. QuestBridge is not an expert on financial aid; you should seek further advice or guidance from these outside resources.
How to file
Remember to file taxes at both the federal and state level. You can file federal taxes for free online. Some sites will charge to file your state taxes online, so make sure you are aware what that charge will be. Some states participate in a state Free File program that allows you to e-file your state taxes for free.
If your scholarship money (inclusive of grants) is greater than your required tuition, fees, books, and supply costs*, then you need to report it when filing your taxes.
* You may or may not get this information on a 1099-MISC from your school. The information on this form may not be correct if all required fees, books, and supplies are not billed to your school bill. Make sure to track and document those separately to calculate the taxable amount of your scholarship. If this is unclear, please ask you financial aid office.
Federal work-study (and other earnings)
You should file taxes if you worked during the past year and had federal or state taxes withheld. You can get that money back as a tax refund!
You must file taxes if:
1. You are claimed by a parent as a dependent and either of the following are true:
2. You are not claimed by a parent as a dependent and are single, not over 65 or blind, and your earned income was greater than $10,150
You or your parent (depending on who claims you as a dependent) should request either the American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning credit if you qualify. You can only claim one credit per student per year.
School requirements & deadlines
Check your school deadline and requirements for these documents (they are often in April). Remember that filing on time (or early!) means you have priority for the best funding options. Be aware of any late fees or registration holds you will incur for filing late.
FAFSA (for US citizens and permanent residents)
Remember that the FAFSA is for both federal and state grants. Check the state deadlines, as they can be very early (some have already passed!) or simply give out funds until they run out. You should never have to pay to file the FAFSA.
Working with your campus' financial aid office
Find out who your financial aid officer is; typically there is a person assigned to your information.
Once you know who to contact, develop a relationship with them. Treat them professionally, and remember that they have decided to spend their career helping students afford college. They are dedicated to making sure financial aid is fair for all students!
If you have questions or financial concerns (such as medical expenses, etc.) – just ask! They want to help you, but keep in mind that with all the financial aid rules and regulations, sometimes their hands are tied.