Graduate-Level Studies Tax Exemption for Support Staff

Michael J. Thivierge
September 26, 2018
Tuition News

According to IRS guidelines, tuition exemption benefits for graduate-level studies (course numbers 4000 & above) are exempt from taxation up to the federal limit of $5,250 in a calendar year. The value of tuition exemption benefits above the federal limit of $5,250 is treated as taxable imputed income, and taxes will be withheld from your paycheck. The University will spread the tax liability of Tuition Exemption benefits for fall classes over the October through December pay periods. 

The one exception to this IRS guideline is for graduate-level studies certified as “job-related,” per IRS-defined criteria.

See guidelines on whether you qualify for the Job-Related tax exemption and for employee and supervisor instructions on how to certify.

What You Need to Know – Job-Related Graduate Education Certification Forms

To ensure the tax exemption is applied to your student account for:

  • Non-Degree Programs – Forms must be certified and submitted each term with your Tuition Exemption Benefits eligibility form to the SFS office
  • Degree Programs – Forms must only be certified once (unless you change your degree program, or job); however, a copy of the certified form must be submitted each term with your Tuition Exemption Benefits eligibility form to the SFS office. 

Note: Forms must be submitted Friday, September 28, 2018.

Important: If you do not submit a Job-Related Graduate Education Certification Form demonstrating these courses are related to your work at the University, your paycheck will be taxed for the tuition value of courses exceeding the annual federal limit.

To Submit Forms:

Email or drop off your signed form(s): 

Columbia Programs
email: Morningside Campus, [email protected]
In-person: Morningside Campus: 205 Kent Hall.  Medical Campus: 1-141 Black Building

If you have any questions about your student account, please contact SFS at [email protected], at Morningside, 205 Kent Hall, (212) 854-4400; and at CUMC, 1-141 Black Building, or by phone at 212-342-4790.