Tuition Tax Treatment

Undergraduate Studies

According to IRS guidelines, tuition exemption benefits for undergraduate-level are exempt from taxation.

Please Note: The value of any Tuition Exemption Benefit for same-sex domestic partners and their children is treated as part of the support staff member's taxable income by the federal government and, therefore, Columbia University will withhold taxes. 

Graduate-Level Studies

For Support Staff Members: 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 the payroll periods during that term.

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

Please visit the Job-Related Graduate Education Certification page for policy and guidance on whether you qualify for the Job-Related tax exemption. Additionally, there are instructions for you and your supervisor on how to certify.

Due to the impact of Covid-19, new Job-Related forms must be submitted by your Supervisor to [email protected], confirming it has been signed and certified as job-related per the IRS criteria reflected in the policy.

Note: If a student receives Tuition Exemption for a Columbia summer session, or for a term as a visiting student in the Special Students Program, this will also be taxable income if the student is the dependent child of a same-sex domestic partner.