[Track] Hey Parents! Use Expensify to track college student expenses and maximize your refund

Stevie LaFortune
Stevie LaFortune Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 240 Expensify Team
edited July 2020 in Deep Dive Docs

Get the most $’s back for school (or Spring Break)

As a parent of a college student, I’ve recouped enough money via tax refunds and credits to fund a mini vacation - Spring Break isn’t just for college students!

Expensify is a remarkable tool that can help you keep track of expenses throughout the year.  For students specifically, you’ll need to track how much you’ve spent on tuition, books, fees, meals, etc.

When I started at Expensify, my daughter was in her 3rd year of college.  After years of searching for scholarships, work-study options, and hunting down where she spent those funds to get the biggest bang for my buck in my tax return, I was so excited to find this solution to help track expenses!  The hours I’ve saved since my daughter started using Expensify to track her college expenses are comparable to a part-time job!

Students can use Expensify’s Track plan in order to document education expenses.  You can learn about getting started with tracking your education expenses using the Track plan here. Learn more about setting up categories and category rules to apply to your expenses here.

Don’t be intimidated, Expensify makes it easy.

For those ready to dive right in ~

To get started, click here to email us a request for a free account with your .edu email address.

  • Once your account is created, add your custom categories and tags that pertain which can be viewed here on the IRS website Qualified Education Expenses
  • Import the card you use to make all of your school purchases (meals, books, tuition, etc.).  These will merge with any SmartScanned expenses in the account.
  • Last, nothing - you’re good-to-go!  

Your account is set!  With the connected card, you won’t need to worry about forgetting to add an expense, they’ll import automatically for you! You’ll have the appropriate categories and tags to apply to expenses, when the time comes to file taxes, it’ll be a breeze with the category totals at your fingertips.  

TIP - If you're not sure if an expense is deductible or not, SmartScan it anyway! It can always be removed at a later time and you don’t miss out on the deduction.

Now you’re ready to start entering transactions ~

If you hadn’t realized Expensify was here to help track your expenses and it’s already halfway through the year, we’ve got you covered!  Check out this Community post for all the tips and tricks to easily get those past expenses added to your account.

Catching up on old expenses

TIP - have your student add you as a CoPilot for full access to their account!

When the end of the year comes and taxes need to be filed -

Use Expensify to view expense category totals to input on your tax forms

  • On the Expenses page in your Expensify web account, click the pie chart icon in the upper right corner to go to the Analytics view.
  • Enter the dates for the school year at the top of the page to generate totals
  • Scroll down below the pie chart to view the expense total for the given date range in each category.

For a deeper dive into using Expensify to track your expenses so that you can use a tax program to file online check out this Community post.

As a student, you’ll receive a Form 1098-T from the institution showing information about tuition paid or billed along with other information. However, amounts shown on this form may not include all you’re eligible to claim for tax credits, hence the necessity for tracking to ensure that the full credit can be taken!

The IRS offers this resource, Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center, which goes into detail of what can be claimed as a deduction or a credit.

To summarize from the IRS, some expenses that might qualify for the education tax credit are:

  • Tuition fees for attendance
  • Required fees for enrollment
  • Required course materials including books, supplies, or equipment

For purposes of the education tax credits, the following might not be considered qualified expenses but will need to be tracked for Educational Savings Accounts or other standard deductions:

  • Any expenses you’re already reporting for another tax deduction, credit, or educational benefit
  • Any item that was paid for with tax-free educational assistance
  • Transportation to and from college
  • Cost of living, including rent, utilities, the cost of a dorm room, and food
  • Any health insurance costs or medical expenses you might have incurred
  • Any fees that are not required as a “condition of enrollment or attendance” (i.e., the class is required)
  • Items that aren’t required by your college, such as a new computer