Filing taxes for college students

Student tax filing information

Let’s face it — of all the things your student spends their time thinking about, taxes aren’t on the list. But as we know, taxes are part of being an adult, and your student is quickly becoming an adult. Here, we’ll answer some questions about taxes and college students so you can help guide your student through the process.

Do college students have to file taxes?

If your student made less than $10,400 last year, would file as an independent and isn’t married, they’re not required to file. But if they received a paycheck at any point during the last year, there are a lot of good reasons they should file, like getting money they overpaid on their taxes back as a refund. There are other reasons they may need to file as well, like earning extra income from a side hustle

Is my student a dependent?

Just because you do your student’s laundry doesn’t automatically make them a dependent on your taxes. If you’re claiming them on your taxes, then they are officially considered a dependent. You can claim them as a dependent on your taxes if you provide at least 50 percent of their costs while they’re in college up to the age of 24. 

What does my student need to have to start the tax filing process?

Here’s a quick list of essentials for your student to start their taxes:

  • Driver license or government-issued ID.
  • W-2 earnings statement from all employers in the previous year. (These should have been mailed to your student by the end of January if they made more than $600 last year.)
  • Social Security number.
  • Federal and state tax returns from the last year they filed, if applicable.

How much does it cost for my student to file their taxes?

Once your student has collected everything listed above, they can use this IRS tool to search for the free software they may qualify for. It’ll help them find options to file their state and federal taxes at no cost. Then they can use the information they gathered from above to fill out the forms.


Each person’s tax situation depends upon individual circumstances. The information in this article is intended to serve as introductory tax information. Please consult a tax professional for personalized tax advice.