Tax Information for International Students

Financial aid received by international students is subject to US income tax. International students who do not already have a US Social Security number and will not be appointed as a student officer during the first semester that they receive a stipend will need to complete an application for a federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Information about the ITIN and the application form (the W-7 form) can be found here.

For international students, the law requires that 14 percent of the amount of fellowship stipends that exceeds the cost of tuition, books, fees, and related classroom expenses be withheld. Any portion of the stipend that students receive as semi-monthly payroll is deemed by the Internal Revenue Service as payment for services rendered (i.e., for teaching and research assistance). Consequently, the university’s payroll office will withhold income taxes from these payments. This withholding is also subject to the conditions of applicable tax treaties between the United States and foreign countries.

To claim exemption from all or part of the tax based on a tax treaty:

  • International students who receive only stipend (that is, no semi-monthly payroll payments) and who claim exemption from all or part of the tax based on a tax treaty must complete IRS form W-8BEN and forward it to the University Payroll Office.
  • International students who are appointed as a student officer (that is, students receiving some or all of their stipends as semi-monthly payroll) must complete IRS Form 8233 and forward it to the University Payroll Office.

Please note that taxes will be withheld on the basis of information existing in Student Services. It is important that you make sure that the Student Information System holds your most current data and correct visa status. If this information is incorrect, you will experience significant delays in receiving your financial aid and possible excessive withholding.

International students applying for tax treaty exemption may make inquiries and complete payroll processes at Columbia University’s Human Resources Processing Center.

Walk-in Hours: Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.; 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Location: Studebaker Building, 615 West 131st Street, Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10032.

To view an International Students and Scholars Office presentation on tax preparation, please click here.