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Publication 519

Scholarships and Fellowship Grants(p16)

If you are a candidate for a degree, you may be able to exclude from your income part or all of the amounts you receive as a qualified scholarship. The rules discussed here apply to both resident and nonresident aliens.
If a nonresident alien receives a grant that is not from U.S. sources, it is not subject to U.S. tax. See Scholarships, Grants, Prizes, and Awards in chapter 2 to determine whether your grant is from U.S. sources.
A scholarship or fellowship is excludable from income only if:
  1. You are a candidate for a degree at an eligible educational institution, and
  2. You use the scholarship or fellowship to pay qualified education expenses.

Candidate for a degree.(p16)

You are a candidate for a degree if you:
  1. Attend a primary or secondary school or are pursuing a degree at a college or university, or
  2. Attend an accredited educational institution that is authorized to provide:
    1. A program that is acceptable for full credit toward a bachelor's or higher degree, or
    2. A program of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.

Eligible educational institution.(p16)

An eligible educational institution is one that maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of students in attendance at the place where it carries on its educational activities.

Qualified education expenses.(p16)

These are expenses for:However, in order for these to be qualified education expenses, the terms of the scholarship or fellowship cannot require that it be used for other purposes, such as room and board, or specify that it cannot be used for tuition or course-related expenses.
Expenses that do not qualify.(p16)
Qualified education expenses do not include the cost of:This is true even if the fee must be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance. Scholarship or fellowship amounts used to pay these costs are taxable.

Amounts used to pay expenses that do not qualify.(p16)

A scholarship amount used to pay any expense that does not qualify is taxable, even if the expense is a fee that must be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.

Payment for services.(p16)

You cannot exclude from income the portion of any scholarship, fellowship, or tuition reduction that represents payment for past, present, or future teaching, research, or other services. This is true even if all candidates for a degree are required to perform the services as a condition for receiving the degree.


On January 7, Maria Gomez is notified of a scholarship of $2,500 for the spring semester. As a condition for receiving the scholarship, Maria must serve as a part-time teaching assistant. Of the $2,500 scholarship, $1,000 represents payment for her services. Assuming that Maria meets all other conditions, she can exclude no more than $1,500 from income as a qualified scholarship.