Taxes Tax Planning What Is a Full-Time Student for Tax Purposes? Full-Time Student Status for Tax Purposes Explained By Jake Safane Updated on January 4, 2023 Reviewed by Eric Estevez In This Article View All In This Article How Full-Time Student Status Works Requirements for Schools Example Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: skynesher / Getty Images Definition A full-time student is someone who meets their school’s full-time attendance requirements for at least part of the month for five months in a calendar year. The months do not have to be consecutive. Schools may differ in terms of how many hours or courses are mandated to qualify as full-time status. Full-time student status may impact how a parent or guardian files their tax return. Key Takeaways A full-time student for tax purposes is someone who meets the full-time requirements of their school for at least part of the month for five months.The five months do not have to be consecutive during that calendar year.Full-time students might not have to file their own taxes if their income can be included with a parent’s tax return.Parents of full-time students might be eligible for certain tax filing statuses or other benefits based on a child’s designation as a full-time student. How Being a Full-Time Student Works for Tax Purposes If you have a student in your family, or if you are a student, status as full-time or part-time can have significant effects on your taxes in a few different ways. For tax purposes, a full-time student is someone who attends school, ranging from elementary school to college, among other types of educational institutions. To qualify as full-time based on the IRS definition, that person needs to meet their school’s full-time requirements, which could be a certain number of courses or hours. They also need to attend school under these full-time requirements for at least part of the month for five months within a calendar year, although these do not have to be consecutive months. The IRS recognizes a student’s full-time status based on that school’s own full-time attendance requirements. For example, an undergraduate student at Georgetown University is considered to be full-time if they are registered for at least 12 credits during the fall or spring term. For the summer term, they only have to be registered for six credits to count as a full-time student. More specifically, a full-time student must attend “a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study, and a regularly enrolled student body at the school,” according to the IRS. They could also attend on-farm training courses given by a school that meets the aforementioned requirements or given via a state, county, or local government. Additional Requirements for Schools In terms of what counts as a school, the IRS defines that as a wide range of institutions, including secondary schools, colleges, trade schools, and more. “However, an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or school offering courses only through the Internet doesn’t count as a school,” the IRS states. Note One other nuance applies to vocational high-school students, where those who work co-op jobs could count as full-time students if that work is part of the school’s “regular course of classroom and practical training,” the IRS states. Example of a Full-Time Student for Tax Purposes When someone qualifies as a full-time student, that can affect their parent’s or guardian’s taxes. For example, someone who qualifies as a full-time student and is under the age of 24 as of the end of the tax year could potentially include their income on their parent’s tax return rather than having to file on their own. This would make them a dependent. Being a full-time student for tax purposes can also affect situations like when a parent wants to file under “head of household” status. Even if someone is an adult in the sense that they’re at least 18, they could still count as what’s known as a “qualifying child” for tax purposes if they’re a full-time student under the age of 24. Having a qualifying child could potentially enable the parent to file as the head of household. Remember, to meet the IRS requirements, the full-time student has to attend school for some part of the month for at least five months within the calendar year for which their status applies. Note To qualify as full-time, the student does not necessarily have to enroll in consecutive months, which leaves room for those who are enrolled in spring and fall semesters with a break between, for example. From there, someone who qualifies as a full-time student for tax purposes can follow different paths depending on their specific situation and that of their family. In some cases, a parent might be eligible for certain tax benefits based on having their child be a full-time student, which could make that student a qualifying child. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) How many hours does it take to be a full-time student? A full-time student is someone who attends a school for some part of the month for at least five months within the calendar year for which their status applies. The number of hours needed to be considered a full-time student are based on the school. The months do not need to be consecutive, such as if there is a school break in the middle. What is considered a "full-time student" at college? Someone under the age of 24 attending college for at least five months within the calendar year would be considered a full-time student. Their income could potentially be included on their parent or guardian's tax return. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. IRS. "Publication 929, Tax Rules for Children and Dependents." Georgetown University. "Matriculation." IRS. "Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, For Individuals."