How to Complete Your Grad Student Tax Return
(and Understand It, Too!)
Taught by
Dr. Emily Roberts
Are you perplexed or frustrated by your graduate student tax return?

This workshop shows you exactly how to find, calculate, and enter your higher education-related income and expenses into your tax forms.
You Are Not Alone

Did you know that graduate students frequently underpay or overpay their true tax liability, sometimes by hundreds or thousands of dollars?

This is because our tax system is not designed for PhD students.
  • Tax software is designed for ease of use for employees and college students, not our strange mish-mash of the two. It takes a great deal of prior knowledge to properly enter your info to tax software; it is not intuitive for our population.
  • Tax preparers frequently mishandle PhD student income and expenses. I have heard a multitude of horror stories about this—and that's just from the people who eventually caught the mistakes!
  • Universities/institutes rarely ease the burden. Faculty and staff are virtually always disallowed from discussing tax matters. There is no single uniform way that universities handle PhD students' income and expenses, which adds to the confusion.
I'm Ready for the Workshop—Let's Go!
Why You Should Join This Tax Workshop
The workshop takes the stress, struggle, and time waste out of preparing your tax return by showing you exactly how to handle the higher education-related aspects of your tax return.

This is the only educational tax product available that is specifically designed for funded graduate students (US citizens and residents for tax purposes).
1. The workshop assists you in preparing an accurate tax return by whichever method you prefer: directly filling out the forms, tax software, or a professional tax preparer.
The difficult truth is that most of the work you as a PhD trainee need to put in to your tax return happens before you start plugging numbers into fields, and tax software and professional tax preparers don't really help you do that work. It's up to you to understand your higher education income and expenses, which is where the workshop comes in.


You want an accurate tax return above all else because:

  • You don't want to overpay your tax (and as a graduate student you cannot afford to!).
  • It might feel good to (unknowingly) underpay your tax in the moment, but you don't want the IRS to chase you down for the difference—plus penalties and interest—a few years from now.
2. The workshop is explicitly designed for funded graduate students. It shows you how to gather and process all your higher education related income and expenses from your:
  • Form W-2
  • Form 1098-T
  • Student account transactions
  • Form 1099-MISC
  • Form 1099-NEC
  • Courtesy letter regarding your fellowship/training grant income
  • Bank account statements
  • Receipts for higher education-related purchases
It's quite common for universities/institutes to not provide certain tax forms for funded graduate students; they are not actually required to issue a Form 1098-T or any documentation of fellowship income! The workshop includes workarounds for those situations.
3. Preparing an accurate tax return will for some PhD students actually reduce their tax liability from what it would have been if they didn't take into account the nuanced information in this workshop.
I am convinced that many if not the majority of PhD students overlook at least one sizable deduction typically worth hundreds of dollars because of the confusing nature of Form 1098-T.

For the fraction of PhD students with a certain type of scholarship income, there is an almost-unknown alternate method of calculating your tax liability that can reduce your tax due by as much as $800!
4. The workshop covers how to handle certain special scenarios that are common for PhD students, such as:
  • Being under age 24 on 12/31/2020, which opens you up to being claimed as a dependent or being subject to the Kiddie Tax
  • Having graduated from college in 2020
  • Having only non-W-2 fellowship income during the entire year
5. The workshop shows you exactly which lines will be filled out on your final tax return.
You will have enough guidance to fill it out directly or you can double-check the return produced by your tax software or tax preparer. This is a very effective error-checking mechanism as the most egregious preparation mistakes result in the wrong lines being filled out.
By the time you complete the workshop, you will:
  • Have examined every avenue for minimizing your higher education-related tax liability.
  • Recognize mistakes in your previous tax returns and see the opportunity to revise them (if applicable).
  • Better understand the US tax system and how your income and expenses are viewed.
  • Experience peace of mind that your tax return is accurate.

The workshop will benefit you no matter which method you ultimately use to prepare your tax return: DIY with the IRS's Free Fillable Forms, tax software, or a professional tax preparer.

Let Me in the Workshop!
Testimonials
Daniel:

"I purchased your tax workshop... your resource totally saved my life!! I now have a strong grasp of my PhD finances and my fellowship forms (where the numbers come from, and why they might not be 100% correct based on additional expenses or which may be deemed a required expense or not).

"Your workshop is especially appreciated since I originally had VITA volunteers at my institution prepare my tax return, but they were uncertain about many things. I refrained from filing with them, and instead purchased your workshop and am now so excited and relieved to have a firm grasp on my funding/taxes as a first-year PhD student. I only recently noticed a serious error in the draft of my 1040 that VITA prepared, so I'm feeling especially lucky, and grateful to your workshop. Thank you so much!"
Rachel:

"I feel really confident this year that I did everything right and that I didn't under- or over-report. I am just so grateful I had this to walk me through a stressful task."
Anonymous:

"The slide visuals, relevant examples, pace, and language were effective in addressing common problems/misunderstandings and translating that in an accessible and educational way. Having access to Q+As was equally as useful for better understanding how my situation relates to other grad students' situations and absorbing additional information."
Ryan:

"[The workshop] has been super helpful! The videos were clear and it made filling out my forms pretty straightforward despite the odd situation of being a graduate student. It definitely helped me feel less intimidated by everything as well."
Anonymous (parent of a graduate student):

"Your website and workshop have proven to be invaluable resources. We pointed out a lot to [our] tax preparer that she did not take into account in her original calculations. We persisted when she initially thought we were wrong, using the IRS info that you reference (especially helpful). I read them in depth and confirmed everything you stated (all correct!). Eventually, the tax preparer realized this as well, and in the end it saved my daughter over $1000!"
Anonymous:

"I appreciated the different segments and that the workshop was tailored to someone in my position with the questions I have. I didn't feel any of the material in the workshop itself was unclear and it was easy to pick up and work through the videos at my own pace. I also really appreciated [Emily's] availability - it was really nice to know that if I had any questions, I could just ask [her] directly!

"When I did my taxes through a free tax software, I was able to identify that something had been calculated incorrectly and it was probably instructing me to overpay on my taxes. That was thanks to this workshop."
Amanda:

"The workshop sections addressed each scenario that could apply to grad students so that I could identify the relevant portions. I appreciated the thorough information—even when the sections didn't apply to me—because it gave me a full picture of all of the components that I may need to consider as I prepared my taxes."
Kristin:

"[This workshop] is my go-to source for how to complete this very tricky process. Emily does her homework, updating things in real time, and also offers the Q&As. The entire package is comprehensive."
Anonymous:

"[The workshop is] extremely easy to follow!"
Anonymous:

"It was worth the cost just to feel confident that I calculated my income correctly! I also think the info will be helpful for future anticipated changes to my income (e.g., fellowships)."
Jennifer:

"Thank you so much for the informative workshop about how to handle fellowship income for tax purposes. I am so surprised that universities, granting agencies and especially accountants are not providing this information to grad students and post-docs who struggle with this unique situation... I have been able to file my 2020 taxes. I know how to file an amended return for 2019, and I know how to calculate and file quarterly estimated taxes for 2021. Thank you for providing the information and the helpful Q&A sessions... I will be recommending your workshops to other grad students and post-docs."
Who Teaches the Workshop?
I'm Emily Roberts, the founder of Personal Finance for PhDs and creator of this workshop.

I started out on the PhD track just like you are. I completed my PhD in biomedical engineering at Duke University in 2014 after living for seven years on a stipend.

During that time, my passion for personal finance grew and grew, as did my desire to serve my own community.

I founded my business, Personal Finance for PhDs, after I defended. Over the years, I've found many avenues to assist PhDs with their personal finances, including speaking engagements at universities, individual and group financial coaching, webinars and workshops, ebooks, and my podcast.

This is the fifth year running that I have taught this tax material, and it has benefitted over a thousand grad students so far.
What Do You Get When You Join the Workshop?
When you join the workshop, you will receive immediate access to a set of eleven videos that methodically teach you how to prepare your graduate student tax return and two worksheets to help you keep your numbers organized.

You will also have the opportunity to ask me questions in one live Q&A call.
The next Q&A call is in:
Don't waste any more time and energy—purchase the tax workshop now!
What Is the Cost?
The price of the workshop is $28.

You will have access to the workshop's videos and worksheets for the rest of tax season, plus you'll receive invitations to the remaining Q&A calls.
I want to finish my tax return
the stress-free way!

Thank you for allowing me to assist you with this particularly challenging aspect of your PhD life!

Frequently Asked Questions
When are the Q&A calls?

The tax year 2020 live Q&A calls will take place at 3:00 PM PT on:

  • January 17, 2021
  • February 13, 2021
  • March 14, 2021
  • March 28, 2021
  • April 10, 2021
  • May 2, 2021
  • May 15, 2021
If you are not able to attend live, you can submit your question in writing in advance and listen to the recording of the call for your answer, which will be posted with the workshop files afterwards.
How much time does the workshop take?

I think you should set aside a few hours to complete the workshop, perhaps broken up into two sessions if you need to retrieve information. You will need to watch at least seven of the ten videos and spend some time manipulating your numbers and filling out the worksheets.

Do I need to know anything about taxes?

The workshop assumes you have no familiarity with the tax system and explains everything you need to know from the ground up.

Will the workshop help me if I use tax software?

While the workshop does not refer to any tax software product in particular, the insight you gain into how the higher education benefits work will help you better interpret what your tax software is prompting you for. Much of the work you will do to gather and categorize your own numbers is what your tax software expects you to have done before interfacing with it, anyway. You will also have the ability to double-check the tax return the software produces.

What if I have questions that the workshop videos and worksheets don't answer?

Please participate in the live Q&A call! You can show up live to talk with me or submit a question in writing in advance, which I will answer during the call. I upload recordings of all the Q&A sessions with the workshop files.

What is your refund policy?

I offer a satisfaction guarantee with this workshop, so if for whatever reason you realize it's not a good fit for you, simply email me and I will refund the purchase price.

Can I purchase this for my department/program/group?

Absolutely! I offer a 40% discount on bulk purchases. Please email me ([email protected]) to set up the purchase.

Since You've Read This Far...
Check out a sample of the course content!

This is the Introduction video.
I'm ready to dive into the workshop!