Withdrawals from an IRA for college expenses

On or after January 1, 1998, an individual can make withdrawals from his/her IRA to pay for qualified higher education expenses for academic periods beginning on or after January 1, 1998, without paying the 10 percent early withdrawal tax. The 10 percent early withdrawal tax does not apply to a distribution from an IRA to the extent that the amount of the distribution does not exceed the qualified higher education expenses for the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, and the child or grandchild of the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse at an eligible educational institution.

For purposes of this rule, the term “qualified higher education expenses” means tuition, fees, books, supplies and equipment required for the enrollment or attendance of the student at an eligible educational institution. Qualified higher education expenses also include room and board if the student is enrolled at least half-time. Qualified higher education expenses paid with an individual’s earnings, a loan, a gift, an inheritance given to the student or the individual claiming the credit, or personal savings (including savings from a qualified state tuition program) are included in determining the amount of the IRA withdrawal which is not subject to the 10 percent early withdrawal tax. Qualified higher education expenses paid with a Pell Grant or other tax-free scholarship, a tax-free distribution from an Education IRA, or tax-free employer-provided educational assistance are excluded.

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