I have a question about Qualified Tuition and Related Expenses (QTRE), specifically how much of it is what the school decides (based on their understanding of the IRS rules) and how much of it can be the taxpayer’s judgement.
My son’s school has provided what they consider QTRE in Box 1 of his 1098-T. (They helpfully provided a document identifying what the QTRE includes – Tuition, of course, but also Student Activity fee, College fee, Technology fee, Wellness fee, Drug Testing fee, and Lab expenses for various classes. In keeping with IRS rules, they point out that insurance fees, health fees, student athletic fees and any administrative fees are NOT QTRE.)
My question is about a specific fee charged by the school for a very specific matter: My child is a cadet at a Marine Academy and, as a part of his degree, which includes getting a third mate’s license, is required to spend mandatory time (45-90 days) at sea each year. This is done on a training ship owned by the school – a fully accredited school, by the way. We had to pay for something called a “Ship maintenance fee” as a part of his college fees.
This does not seem to have been included in the QTRE and I wonder why not. (The school did not offer any explanation when I called to inquire.) After all, being on board the training ship is necessary (indeed mandatory) for graduation from this marine academy, and this is not a student-specific charge peripheral to the degree requirements. My question is: can I include this in calculating the actual (in my opinion) QTRE?
Can I use my judgement, in this specific case, to include this “(ship) maintenance fee” in QTRE despite the fact that the school did not?
Any response would be appreciated. Thanks very much in advance.