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Scholarships and Fellowships

Scholarship/Fellowship payments for U.S. citizens, Permanent Residents and U.S. tax residents are taxable but not subject to tax withholding unless a student specifically requests taxes to be withheld via federal and state W-4 forms.   The payments may be considered taxable income and must be reported when filing your U.S. federal and state tax returns.  Please see IRS publication 970 to assist in determining which portion of these payments is considered taxable income. 

Tax withholdings ramifications

If you would like Payroll to withhold taxes, complete the Federal and IL W-4 Employee’s Illinois Withholding Allowance Certificate forms by entering a specific dollar amount on line 6 for the federal W-4 and line 3 on the Illinois W-4. 

Once you add the additional tax withholding, it is very importantto know this extra withholding will continue on each payment you receive from the University until you submit new federal and state W-4s removing the additional amount.  That means if you later switch to an assistantship payment (GA, RA, TA) or any other type of employment income (prize, additional pay, etc.) where regular federal and state taxes are withheld, you will then be taxed on the payment for BOTH the normal tax withholding and the additional amount you entered on the W-4s.  To avoid this, make sure to stay alert to any funding changes.  If you will be changing from scholarship/fellowship to another type of payment (or back), you must submit the federal and Illinois W-4 forms to the Payroll Office by the 15th of the month for the tax change to be effective for that month.  Due to federal and Illinois tax laws, Northwestern is unable to refund any taxes to students that fail to adjust their W-4s by the required deadlines.

Taxes for nonresidents

Nonresident non-qualified scholarship/fellowship stipends are subject to 14% federal taxation, unless a tax treaty applies.  Illinois state taxes are not withheld on non-service payments and any tax payments must be paid directly to the state. 

Nonresident scholarship/ fellowship stipends that will be used for educational purposes outside the U.S. may be exempt from U.S. taxation if certain requirements are met.  Please complete the Statement for Independent Educational Activities Conducted Outside the U.S. along with the appointment/position form. 

Foreign nationals should visit our Pay and Tax Information for Foreign Nationals and Qatar Employees for more information.

Social Security (OASDI) and Medicare Tax for students

NRSA postdoctoral trainees