As I recall, you are OK on taxes with the tuition waiver. So, let's say tuition is $10,000, and you are hired as a teaching assistant for a further $10,000. Your real task is to learn something and get a degree, but the school wants some work out of you. The $10,000 on the TA wages is taxable. The $10,000 on the tuition waiver isn't. There was an attempt to make it taxable a few years ago, but the education lobby beat that back. At least, that's what I recall.By the way, fellowships (as opposed to TA stipends) used to be not taxable. I was on fellowship, ha. The real difference at the time was that TA's had to do work, and fellowship students didn't. But the law has changed, and fellows have to pay taxes too, even though they have no duties.
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