QuestBridge is honored to connect Scholars to their campus through the National College Match application process. Upon admittance, your campus financial aid office determines your scholarship award and offers a generous financial aid package to cover the cost of your attendance. They are best equipped to answer questions and discuss concerns related to your finances. Should you have any questions regarding the information below, 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 or taxes; you should seek further advice or guidance from these outside resources.
The following is intended to serve as a general guide that we hope is helpful. QuestBridge Scholars come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and as such this guide is not able to address every specific situation.
How to file
We recommend that Scholars educate themselves on this topic by reviewing Tax Information for Students on the IRS website. You can use the IRS interactive tax assistant to determine if you should file your taxes at the federal level. Even if you earned below filing limits, you may want to file if you had taxes withheld, as you could get these back as a tax refund. 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 tax form 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.
In 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), may have also impacted your financial aid. Review the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund and Emergency Financial Aid Grants under the CARES Act details on the IRS website for more information on this topic.
Whoever claims you as a dependent (you or your parent) 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. Keep in mind that applying early can be beneficial, as states may have their own (earlier!) deadlines or funding may simply 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 either based on your last name or your class year.
Once you know who to contact, develop a relationship with them. Treat them professionally, and consider 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! Your financial aid office wants to help you, and will work with you while also following the many internal and federal rules and regulations that exist to ensure fairness and student privacy.