1098-T Frequently Asked Questions

image of 1098T form

The general information listed below should not be taken as tax or legal advice; please contact the IRS or a qualified tax professional for tax preparation advice. The University cannot provide assistance regarding your eligibility or the calculation of the credits.


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The 1098-T form (“1098-T”) is used by eligible educational institutions to report information about their students to the IRS as required by the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. Eligible educational institutions are required to submit information pertaining to qualified tuition and related expenses, as well as scholarships and/or grants, taxable or not. This form is informational only. It serves to alert students that they may be eligible for federal income tax education credits. It should not be considered as tax opinion or advice.

While it is a good starting point, the 1098-T, as designed and regulated by the IRS, does not contain all of the information needed to claim a tax credit. There is no IRS requirement that you must claim the tuition and fees deduction or an education credit. Claiming education tax benefits is a voluntary decision for those who may qualify.

In January of each year, Sonoma State University prepares a 1098-T for all students who had qualified tuition and other related educational expenses billed (“charged”) to them during the previous calendar year. The 1098-T the student receives is the information that was sent to the IRS by Sonoma State University. The 1098-T is informational only and should not be considered as tax opinion or advice. It serves to alert students that they may be eligible for federal income tax education credits such as the American Opportunity Credit and Lifetime Learning Tax Credit.

Receipt of a 1098-T does not indicate eligibility for the tax credit. To determine the amount of qualified tuition and fees paid, and the amount of scholarships and grants received, the individual should use their own financial records. To see if you qualify for the credit, and for help in calculating the amount of your credit, see IRS publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

If Sonoma State University was required to produce a 1098-T for you, the form will be mailed out or made available electronically by January 31st. The fastest way to receive a 1098-T is for students to log into their MySSU account and access the form electronically. To locate the current or past year’s 1098-T in the MySSU account, click on "Student Center," scroll down to the “Finances” section, click on the down arrow drop box to view “other financial information”, then click on “View 1098-T.”

There are several reasons why a 1098-T may not have been required to be generated or why you did not receive one:

  • Graduated (or stopped attending) after the Spring Term – If you graduated in the Spring term, you likely registered and were charged in December of the prior tax year. Therefore, the information would be included in the prior year’s 1098-T. In order to determine whether the Spring term was included on a prior year’s 1098-T, review Box 7 on the 1098-T.
  • International (foreign) Students - If you are not a U.S. resident for tax purposes, the University is not required to issue a 1098-T.
  • No Qualified Tuition and Fees Charged During the Calendar Year – If you were not charged for any qualified tuition and fees during the calendar year, you will not receive a 1098-T.
  • Continuing Education (Extended Education) – For programs not resulting in a degree, the University is not required to issue a 1098-T.
  • No Active Address in your MySSU Account - An active address on your MySSU student account is required by the university in order to successfully generate a 1098-T. Be sure to check your personal information and have an active address listed.
  • Incorrect or Wrong Address - If your 1098-T was sent to an old or incorrect address. In this case, you can update your current mailing address and access an electronic 1098-T copy in your “Student Center” in your MySSU account.
  • Attended the CSU International Program - If you were enrolled in the CSU’s international program during the preceding calendar year, you must contact the CSU International Program Fiscal Affairs Division at ipfinance@calstate.edu or by phone at (562) 951-4790 to request a 1098-T. This is because you were charged qualified tuition by the CSU International Program and not the University, therefore only they can issue the 1098-T.

The University reports charges incurred for the tax year which also includes the future Spring term. For example, the Spring 2016 semester registration took place in November and December 2015. In this case, the charges for Spring 2016, which commenced in January 2016, would be included on the 2015 1098-T regardless of when payment was made. Your individual payment records serve as proof of payment for your tax return for the specific tax reporting year.

The 1098-T reports the amounts charged, not the amounts paid. The most common reason for a difference is that most Spring semester charges are applied to the bill in December of the prior year, but often are not paid until January. You may obtain an itemization of your financial activity by logging into your Student Center in MySSU via the portal: click on “Student Center,” scroll down to the “Finances” section, click on “Account Inquiry,” and then click the “Payments” tab. You can then use the date filter to view the payments made on your student account.

Students at Sonoma State University have the option to Go Green and consent to receive their 1098-T electronically. If you would like to receive your 1098-T electronically, please grant consent by logging into your MySSU, click on “Student Center”, scroll down to the “Finances” section, click on the down arrow drop box to view “other financial information, click on “View 1098-T” and then click on “Grant Consent.”

Qualified tuition and related expenses included in Box 2 are:

Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution (Sonoma State University) such as:

  • State University Fee
  • Nonresident Tuition Fee
  • Student Union Fee
  • Associated Students Fee
  • Instructionally Related Activity Fees
  • Required Course Fees
  • Professional Program Fee
  • Facilities Fee
  • Document Fee

Qualified tuition and related expenses not included in Box 2 are:

  • Books, supplies and equipment needed for a course of study (Note: The University does not track amounts paid for books and supplies, therefore these amounts are not reported on the 1098-T. You must keep your own receipts and records for these types of expenses for determining any potential educational tax deductions or credits.)

Ineligible expenses for calculating tax credits/deductions, thus not reported in Box 2 include:

  • Room and Board Charges
  • Health Services Fee
  • Counseling and Psychology Fee
  • Continuing Education Fees (unless the course is part of a degree program)
  • Late Fees or Fines
  • Insurance fees/charges
  • Medical expenses
  • Transportation expenses
  • Student Involvement & Representation Fee (SIRF)
  • Other personal, living, or family expenses

See IRS Publication 970 for specific examples of qualified and unqualified tuition and related expenses.

Your receipts and/or payment activity obtained from your student account will show how much and when you paid. These amounts may not match Box 2 because Box 2 only shows what you were charged. In addition, not all charges are considered qualified expenses by the IRS. Box 2 only includes qualified expenses charged in the applicable tax year.

The University is required by the IRS to either fill in the payments received (Box 1) or the amounts billed (Box 2) for qualified tuition and related expenses. Sonoma State University reports qualified tuition and related expenses that were charged during the tax year (Box 2); therefore, Box 1 – Payments Received for Qualified Tuition and Related Expenses, will be blank. Reporting nothing in Box 1 does not mean payments were not made.

For actual payments made, please refer to your own financial records or you may obtain an itemization of your financial activity by logging into your student center in MySSU via the portal, click on “Student Center,” scroll down to the “Finances” section, click on “Account Inquiry,” and then click the “Payments” tab. You can then use the date filter to view the payments made on your student account.

Scholarships and grants are reported in Box 5 on the 1098-T. Loans are not reported on the 1098-T.

Determination of eligibility is the responsibility of the taxpayer. The University is required to file a 1098-T with the IRS and each student who was charged for qualified tuition and related expenses. It is important to note the University cannot provide individual income tax advice. If you have any 1098-T tax-related questions regarding the tax credit, eligibility, or reporting your tax credit on your tax return, please consult with a qualified tax professional or contact the IRS Taxpayer Assistance line at 1-800-829-1040.

You or your parents may be eligible for the educational tax credits on your tax return. The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 created two educational tax credits for students and families, the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. For a more detailed description you can read IRS Publication 970 which can be found on the IRS web site.

  • You can log onto your MySSU
  • Click on "Student Center," scroll down to the "Finances" section, click on "Account Inquiry," and then click the "Activity" tab. You can then use the date filter to view the charges and payments made on your student account.

While it is a good starting point, the 1098-T form, as designed and regulated by the IRS, does not contain all of the information needed to claim a tax credit. Most of the information needed must come from the student’s personal financial records of what the student paid during the calendar year. Additionally, each taxpayer and his or her tax advisor must make the final determination of qualifying expenses.

If you have questions specific to the data provided by Sonoma State University on your 1098-T, you can:

For information regarding filing your taxes and benefit eligibility, please contact a qualified tax consultant or the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, or go to www.irs.gov.


Disclaimer Sonoma State University does not assist in tax preparation, act as a tax consultant for individuals or entities, provide tax advice, and cannot answer your tax questions. Please consult a tax professional, the IRS, or a financial planner who is proficient with taxation with your tax questions. Each student and/or their parents must determine eligibility for, calculation of, and limitation on the tuition and fees deduction or the education credits (HOPE or Lifetime Learning Credit). While the University has made every effort to use the most current and accurate data, tax laws change frequently, and it is possible that some of the information may no longer be accurate. The University disclaims all liability from the mistreatment of information and materials contained in this document. Please keep in mind that no one from Sonoma State University, while in their official role at the University, can act as a tax consultant, give personal, legal, or tax advice, or represent an individual dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Thus, any assistance the above information may provide is given as a courtesy to you, and as such, should not be construed in any way as the rendering of legal or tax advice.