How to Complete Your Grad Student Tax Return (and Understand It, Too!)
(Tax Year 2022)
Taught by Dr. Emily Roberts
Do your graduate students come to you with questions and frustrations regarding calculating and reporting their taxable stipend income...
 
But you are disallowed from and/or ill-equipped to address their concerns?
  
This external educational tax workshop is the solution.
The purpose of the workshop is to teach graduate students about the federal higher education tax benefits available to them, including how to tabulate, calculate, and report their funding and education expenses.
Ready to talk to Emily about sponsoring the workshop?
Who Takes This Workshop?
This workshop is for people who:
  • Are graduate students in 2022 (part-year included) in the US
  • Are US citizens, permanent residents, or residents for tax purposes *
  • Receive funding that pays a stipend and their education expenses (in part or in full)
See the "Introduction" video at the bottom of this page for the full exploration of the characteristics of the intended participants.
* There is a separate workshop for non-resident graduate students and postdocs, which you can read about on this page.
Who Sponsors This Workshop?
This workshop is usually sponsored by any of:
  • Graduate schools/offices
  • Graduate student governments/associations
  • Medical schools, engineering schools, etc.
  • Individual departments
How Does This Workshop Uniquely Serve Graduate Students?
The workshop takes the stress, struggle, and time waste out of preparing their federal income tax returns by showing them exactly how to handle the higher education-related aspects of their tax returns.
 
This is the only educational tax product available that is specifically designed for funded graduate students (US citizens, permanent residents, and residents for tax purposes).
1. The workshop assists them in preparing an accurate tax return by whichever method they prefer: directly filling out forms, tax software, or a professional tax preparer.
The difficult truth is that most of the work a grad student needs to put in to their tax return happens before they start plugging numbers into fields, and tax software and professional tax preparers don't really help them do that work. It's up to them to understand their higher education income and expenses, which is where the workshop comes in.
 
We want an accurate tax return above all else because:
  • They don't want to overpay their tax (and as graduate students they cannot afford to!).
  • It might feel good to (unknowingly) underpay their tax in the moment, but they don't want the IRS to chase them 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 them how to gather and process all their higher education related income and expenses from their:
  • 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 12/31/2022, which opens them up to being claimed as a dependent or being subject to the Kiddie Tax
  • Having graduated from college in 2022
  • Having only non-W-2 fellowship income during the entire year
5. The workshop shows them exactly which lines will be filled out on their final tax return.
They will have enough guidance to fill the forms out directly or they can double-check the return produced by their 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 they complete the workshop, they will:
  • Have examined every avenue for minimizing their higher education-related tax liability.
  • Recognize mistakes in their previous tax returns and see the opportunity to revise them (if applicable).
  • Better understand the US tax system and how their income and expenses are viewed.
  • Experience peace of mind that their tax return is accurate.
The workshop will benefit them no matter which method they ultimately use to prepare your tax return: DIY with the IRS's Free Fillable Forms, tax software, or a professional tax preparer.
Ready to talk to Emily about sponsoring the workshop?
What Is Included in the Workshop?
The asynchronous workshop comprises:
14 videos with transcripts totaling two hours and forty minutes, titled:
  • Introduction
  • General Background
  • Higher Education Background
  • Tax Return Preparation Methods
  • Higher Education Tax Benefits
  • Your Student Account and Form 1098-T
  • Additional Income
  • Additional Expenses
  • Applying Education Tax Benefits
  • Filling Out Forms
  • Form 1098-T Boxes 4 and 6
  • If You Were Under Age 24
  • If You Are Class of 2022 (Bachelor's)
  • Off-Target Effects
4 worksheets (PDF and Excel versions)
Invitations to 1-2 live Q&A calls per month throughout tax season (open to everyone in the workshop)—the recordings are added to workshop as well
Here is a quote from an anonymous previous workshop participant regarding this format:
 
"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!"
What Past Workshop Participants Say
"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."

- Anonymous (2020)

"[What I found valuable was] the clarity and detail of each video; the thorough response to my question submitted through the Q&A form; the focus on support conceptual understanding of, not simply procedural fluency with, tax returns. This was such a one-of-a-kind workshop...

Last year I had a very difficult time getting a question answered from people affiliated with my university, so I was drawn to an "outside" expert who was focused on *my* understanding, not protecting the university."

- Anonymous (2020)

"[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."
 
- Kristin (2020)
Who Teaches the Workshop?
I'm Dr. Emily Roberts (she/her), the founder of Personal Finance for PhDs. I am a financial educator specializing in prospective graduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and early-career PhDs. I hold a PhD in biomedical engineering from Duke University.
 
Through Personal Finance for PhDs, I give live seminars for universities, provide pre-recorded workshops to universities and individuals, host a podcast, and run a membership community.
 
I struggled to complete my own tax returns during grad school and grew curious about the unique treatments of various types of funding. After I defended, I threw myself into studying the tax benefits and drawbacks related to higher education-related income and expenses.
 
This workshop is the outworking of teaching this material for seven years running. My goal is for every PhD trainee to easily prepare an accurate tax return so that they neither underpay nor overpay their true tax liability.
What Is the Cost?

The cost of the workshop is $20 per person.

Ready to talk to Emily about sponsoring the workshop?
Frequently Asked Questions About This Workshop
When is the best time to offer the workshop?

I recommend setting up and advertising the workshop starting in January and keeping it available through Tax Day.

Many people want to file their tax returns ASAP in January to receive their tax refunds, while many others procrastinate this task and won't get to it until April.

Even if you're finding this workshop for the first time later on in tax season, there's still time to offer it for those later filers! We can get the workshop set up very quickly on our end.

Can we host a live event instead?

I believe that this pre-recorded and asynchronous version of the tax workshop is superior to a fully live version (which I presented for many years prior to creating the workshop) because:

  • The video content is 100% scripted and therefore as complete, precise, and concise as possible—and I provide the script/transcript so the content can be read instead of watched.
  • The videos can be paused, replayed, or skipped as needed. This is particularly useful as it sometimes takes time to gather documents, look up fine print, and make calculations; a live event doesn't allow sufficient time for this.
  • A participant can access the workshop at the time that they feel motivated to complete it, whether at the beginning or end of tax season or in between.
  • The periodic live Q&A calls retain a live event's advantage of being able to ask questions of me, and I've observed that the questions are usually better because the participants have had time to reflect on the material.

While I won't present this material live during this tax season, you can create a live event for your students who prefer a group event. You can stream the videos sequentially in a group setting (in person or remote). I just ask that you make sure that everyone in attendance has joined the workshop through your registration page.

This event could even precede a live Q&A call with me (see next).

Can we schedule a private Q&A call with Emily?

Yes! I offer a private live Q&A call as a volume bonus if 200+ people from your institution register. Alternatively, even without meeting that registration threshold, I can provide a private call for an additional $500 charge.

Are state income taxes addressed in the workshop?

No, this workshop covers only federal income tax.

How will participants sign up?

I will create a unique registration link for your graduate students that leads to a unique version of the workshop. I will bill you for the number of people who were added to your version of the workshop.

Can you send us the registration list?

Yes, we can easily export the registration list at any time and will send it to you upon your request. Please contact [email protected] with this request.

Can you send us any data on how the workshop is being used?

Yes, I have a tracking feature set up to tell what fraction of the workshop each participant has completed. (Keep in mind that the workshop was designed so that modules that are irrelevant to an individual are easily skipped!) I am also tracking who attends each Q&A call.

How do participants access the workshop?

I host the workshop files on my website, PFforPhDs.community. After a participant registers, they will receive their auto-generated login information. When they log in through PFforPhDs.community/account/login, they will see a link for the workshop.

Can you limit the number of sign-ups to the number we want to pay for?

Yes, we can monitor the number of sign-ups and manually close registration when we see that you have reached your desired limit. The registration page can populate a waitlist instead if you want to continue to track the demand.

Can you send reminder emails about the live Q&A calls or do we need to do that?

I can take that off your hands!

When a participant registers for the workshop, I ask them to opt in to my mailing list so that I can communicate with them regarding the Q&A calls. If they do, they will receive the reminder email that I will send out prior to each live Q&A call. If they don't opt in or choose to unsubscribe, they won't receive those emails.

I won't email them about matters other than the workshop unless they opt in to my wider mailing list.

How do we pay for it?

Preferred: I will register as a vendor/supplier with your institution and invoice you for the number of registered participants to that date to be paid by check or direct deposit. I am already registered as a vendor with many universities.

Alternative 1: I will send you an invoice through an online payments platform, through which you can pay by credit card.

Alternative 2: I will send you to a customizable payments page, through which you can pay by credit card.

When will we be billed?

I will invoice you twice for this workshop.

The first invoice will be sent after the initial wave of sign-ups (~ 2 weeks after your first advertise the workshop).

The second invoice will be sent after registration closes on April 30, 2023.

(This schedule is negotiable.)

Can we subsidize the cost of the workshop for our graduate students instead of paying for it in full?

Yes, you can choose what fraction of the $20 per person cost you will subsidize and what fraction will be the participant's contribution. I will still create a unique registration page and workshop copy. The participant will be charged up front the price you choose, and I will bill you later on for your portion based on the number of completed registrations.

When are the Q&A calls?

I will host at least one Q&A call per month throughout tax season.

  • Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 10:00 AM PT
  • Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 11:00 AM PT
  • Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM PT
  • Friday, March 10, 2023 at 1:00 PM PT
  • Thursday, March 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM PT
  • Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 10:00 AM PT
For how long will participants retain access to the workshop?

The workshop files will remain available through the extended tax return filing deadline of October 16, 2023.

What other universities have sponsored this workshop?

How to Complete Your Grad Student Tax Return (and Understand It, Too!) [2021 version] was purchased on behalf of graduate students at:

  • Boston University
  • Scripps Research Institute
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • University of Miami
  • Mayo Clinic
  • University of California, San Diego
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Michigan
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Duke University
Have another quick question?

Feel free to email it to me: [email protected]

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

This is the Introduction video from the tax year 2021 version of this workshop.
Ready to talk to Emily about scheduling the workshop?