Payroll & Benefits

Tuition & Fee Waivers

Taxability of Certain Assistantship Tuition and Service Fee Waivers

This information applies to all graduate assistants (GAs) and professional graduate assistants (PGAs) who are eligible to hold assistantship appointments accompanied by tuition and service fee waivers.

Current tax law exempts Teaching Assistants (TAs), Research Assistants (RAs), and most Fellows from having to pay taxes on tuition and service fee waivers associated with these appointments.

While examining the implications of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, the University determined that it is necessary to document and track the taxability of tuition and service fee waivers provided to Graduate Assistants (GAs) and Pre-professional Graduate Assistants (PGAs).

The circumstances under which some or all of a GA's or PGA's tuition and service fee waiver may be tax exempt are described below:

  • First, in compliance with Internal Revenue Code Section 127, $5,250 per calendar year in tuition and service fee waivers associated with GA and/or PGA appointments is excluded from taxable income. This pertains to all GA and PGA appointments.

  • Second, under other Sections of the Internal Revenue Code, GA and PGA tuition and service fee waivers exceeding $5,250 per calendar year may be excluded from taxable income if the GA or PGA appointment meets certain criteria.

Students receiving waivers associated with GA or PGA appointments will receive information from University Payroll after the add drop period when the waiver amount for the calendar year is $5,250 or greater. GAs and PGAs may be exempt if:

  • The value of the GA or PGA waiver does not exceed $5,250 for the calendar year, or

  • The value of the waiver exceeds $5,250 for the calendar year and there is a concurrent TA or RA appointment that is half or more of the total percentage appointment (for example, if you have a combined appointment of 30% that includes a 15% RA appointment, then you should not receive this information), or

  • The GA or PGA has a concurrent qualified fellowship appointment as defined by IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education Link opens PDF file.

For information about eligibility and restrictions for graduate-level tuition and service fee waivers contact the Graduate College on your campus: 

Questions about the taxability of waivers should be directed to the Payroll Service Center at: 

  • UIUC: 217-265-6363

  • UIC: 312-996-7200

  • UIS: 217-206-7211

Last Updated: January 13, 2015

Give us feedback about this page Submit Feedback