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Tax Issues - 1098T

General Information

As an institution, we cannot provide you with tax advice. The following information is intended to inform students about the benefits and requirements contained in the Tax Relief Act (TRA) of 1997. It is based upon our understanding of the provisions contained in the law and should not be considered an official document. Students and/or parents should seek the advice of a tax consultant for specific questions concerning their eligibility.

TRA '97 added § 25A of the Internal Revenue (IRS) Code providing the Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning Credit. These provisions have created several new tax benefits for families who are saving for, or already paying for higher education expenses and loans. For additional information concerning these education credits, please review the IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education. Also, please consider familiarizing yourself with Instructions for Form 8863, the form used to claim education credits.

Please note Publication 970 states "When figuring an education credit or the tuition and fees deduction, use only the amounts you paid and are deemed to have paid during the tax year for qualified education expenses. An institution may choose to report either payments received during calendar year xxxx (box 1), or amounts billed during the calendar year xxxx (box 2), for qualified education expenses. However, the amounts in boxes 1 and 2 of Form 1098-T might be different than the amount you actually paid and are deemed to have paid."

Access to Individual 1098T Forms

A 1098T form is mailed to all students with a valid Social Security Number on file. The 1098T will be mailed to the student's permanent address on record as of the date the tax (1098T) file is created. SUNY Central Administration contracts with a third party to print and mail the forms, which will be completed on or before Jan. 31. The student will receive them by postal mail shortly thereafter.

Students also have access to their 1098T information online, via their myRedDragon accounts. After signing in to mRD, select the “Student" tab, and select “view 1098T” item under the Student Accounts menu. The form includes not only a representation of the 1098T information submitted to the IRS, but an itemization, by term, of the amounts included on the 1098T. 

SUNY Reporting Method

Regulations developed by the IRS for the Tax Relief Act of 1997 allowed educational institutions to choose whether the financial information reported for tax credits is based upon "amounts billed" or upon "payments received." Since the IRS considers the entire system of SUNY schools a single entity, all SUNY colleges and universities must report the financial information for tax credits in the same manner. It was determined by SUNY System Administration that all SUNY schools would be required to report "amounts billed," rather than "payments received."

Box Amounts

Box 1  Due to the SUNY reporting method detailed above, Box 1 is blank.

Box 2  Due to the SUNY reporting method detailed above, the amount reported in Box 2 of the 1098T reflects the amount billed for Qualified Education Expenses during the tax year, not the amount paid during the year. Please note the IRS deems only tuition and certain fees as being Qualifed Education Expenses so room, board, or other expenses will not be reported in Box 2.

Box 4  Any adjustments made for a prior year for qualified education expenses that were reported on a prior year 1098T will appear in Box 4. These amounts, if any, may affect any allowable education credit you may have claimed for a prior year. If any amount appears in Box 4 of your 1098T, it is strongly advised that you seek the advice of a tax consultant for specific information concerning the handling of prior year adjustments.

  • Example: student was billed in December 2013 for the spring 2014 semester but withdrew during January 2014. The reduction in charges for the spring 2014 semester occurred in January and would be reported here (as a positive amount) on the 2014 1098T. But the original tuition charges would have been reported in the year billed (2013) with box 7 checked.

Box 5  The amount of grants or scholarships applied as payments on a student account during the tax (calendar) year are reflected in Box 5 of Form 1098T. 

Box 6   Any adjustments to scholarships or grants for a prior year will be reflected in Box 6. These amounts, if any, may affect any allowable education credit you may have claimed for a prior year. If any amount appears in Box 6 of your 1098T it is strongly advised that you seek the advice of a tax consultant for specific information concerning the handling of prior year adjustments.

Box 7  Due to the SUNY reporting method detailed above, Box 7 may be checked. SUNY Cortland bills students who advanced registered for the spring semester in December of the previous year (Spring 2015 is billed in December 2014) so your 1098T for any tax year (2014) may contain charges for a semester that occurs in the following calendar year (2015). If so, Box 7 will be checked. In this case, students/parents are reminded that Publication 970 states "When figuring the credit, use only the amounts you paid and are deemed to have paid in 2014 for qualified education expense."