Pell Grant Taxation
- As a general rule, Pell Grants are tax-exempt awards. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) categorizes Pell Grants with scholarships and fellowships, rather than grants, for tax reporting purposes. The same holds true for awards such as Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and grants made to states by the federal government for state student incentives. In most cases, students receiving Pell Grants pay no taxes on those grants, though the fine print of Pell Grant stipulations may require reporting and even partial taxation of the award.
Pell Grant Expenses
- The portion of a Pell Grant award used on tuition and course-related costs in the grant period is tax-exempt. Any Pell Grant money not spent on tuition or course costs will be taxable. The same holds true for any Pell Grant money remaining after the term of the grant expires. If you save any of your Pell Grant funds, you must pay taxes on that amount.
Pell Grant Method of Disbursement
- There are two primary methods of Pell Grant disbursement: direct disbursement and institutional disbursement. Under direct disbursement, the school gives all funds from a Pell Grant directly to you, for you to spend at your discretion. Under institutional disbursement, the school keeps the money and applies it directly toward your tuition costs, refunding to you any amount remaining. If your grant disburses through the institution, you pay no taxes on grant funds used for tuition and course costs. If your grant goes directly to you, you must take care to spend funds only on tuition or course costs, or else risk taxation.
Pell Grant Tax Reporting
- Whether or not you report Pell Grant funds on your taxes depends upon the specifics of your circumstance. If you spend all of your funds on tax-exempt expenses such as tuition and course costs, you need not report grant funds on your taxes. If you receive no money in a year other than Pell Grant funds and spend the grant money exclusively on tax-exempt expenses, you need not file taxes at all. However, the Internal Revenue Service or Department of Education may require proof of how you spend your grant funds. If you spend a portion of your Pell Grant funds on nonexempt costs, you must report only those funds to the IRS, not the grant in its entirety.