Scholarship Overawards

If you received an email from ISS notifying you of a scholarship overaward, then please follow the directions on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is a scholarship overaward?
A: An overaward happens when the amount of your scholarships is greater than your tuition and fees balance. That excess amount is called an "overaward." Because you are an international student, additional tax paperwork must be completed before it can be paid directly to you.

Q: I don't want to get the scholarship overaward. What do I do?
A: Contact your scholarship award agency/office, and ask them to withdraw the excess amount from your total award.

Q: I know already that I will be getting an overaward. Can I contact ISS to expedite the process?
A: No. Do not contact ISS if you have not received an email alerting you to the overaward. Overawards can only be officially determined by the Cashier's Office after all UH accounts are settled, which is after the deadline for 50% tuition refund, which can be about 3-4 weeks after the beginning of the semester.

Q: Do I have to submit tax forms each time I receive an overaward?
A: You must submit paperwork to update your tax status for each calendar year. If you have already submitted paperwork once for a calendar year, then you probably do not have to submit again unless there are substantial changes like your mailing address. You must submit these tax forms to update for a calendar year even if you were a resident for tax purposes in the previous year.

Example 1: You received your first overaward in spring semester, and submitted tax paperwork. You received another overaward in fall of the same year. Since you already submitted your paperwork, and there has been a determination of your tax status, you will not have to submit again for fall.

Example 2: You received your first overaward in fall semester, and submitted tax paperwork. You received another overaward in spring of the following year. Even though you submitted your tax paperwork for fall, you must submit again because the spring semester is in a new calendar year.

Example 3: You received your first overaward in fall semester, and submitted tax paperwork that determined you were a resident for tax purposes. You received another overaward in spring the following year. Even though you submitted your tax paperwork for fall, you must submit again regardless of your past tax status because the spring semester is in a new calendar year.

Q: Can I receive tax advice from ISS?
A: No, ISS is not a licensed tax advising office. In order to give tax advice, one must be licensed to do so. It is unlawful to provide tax advice without the proper tax license.

Q: What is the role of the ISS Office in this process?
A: ISS acts a an intermediary for communication purposes only. ISS advocated for the equal treatment of international students when receiving overawards, and accepted to be the office for the intake of tax documents. Because of U.S. tax laws, any payments made directly to international students must first be reviewed for tax withholding. However, ISS only accepts the tax forms and forwards them to the UH Disbursing Office on behalf of the student. ISS is not involved in the accounting, tax determinations, or payments.


If this is your first time receiving an overaward and have questions that can't be answered by this page, you may schedule an appointment to see an ISS advisor.

Check to make sure your mailing address in MyUH is your current U.S. address, and that it is formatted correctly. If a check needs to be mailed to you, then the address must be correct. We strongly recommend that you sign up for eRefund so that any refunds may be transmitted directly to your bank account, as checks may be lost in the mail or returned because of outdated addresses.

Example - CORRECT:

Address Line 1: 2222 Dole St
Address Line 2: Apt A
City: Honolulu
State: HI
Zip Code: 96822

*You do not have to enter information for "county" or "country."

Example - INCORRECT!!!:

Address Line 1: 2222 Dole street #A Frear Hall
City: Honolulu
State: HI
Zip Code: 96822
Country: United Kingdom

Enter only building number and street on Address Line 1. Do not use symbols (e.g., @#$&) or diacritical marks (like okina or kahako) in your address.

All scholarship overaward recipients must download and complete the WH-1 form. DO NOT complete the bank transfer forms attached to the WH-1. Those are not needed and cannot be used by international students.

See a sample WH-1 with helpful hints, or read the helpful hints below.


Section A. Personal Information

  • Country of Residence for Tax Purposes: The country you lived in immediately before entering the U.S.

Section B. US Immigration Activity

  • Current Visa Status > Date of US entry: the date on which you first entered in your current visa status, not the last entry date.
  • Current Visa Status > Intended Length of Stay (Days): Estimate or base on end date on I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Current Visa Status > Anticipated Departure Date: Estimate or use end date on I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Current Visa Status > What is the primary purpose of the visit?: For students, this is usually "Studying/Training/Research in a Degree Program." If you are in a non-degree program, choose the second line.
  • Past Visa History > Enter period(s) when you were physically present in the US during the listed calendar year: Provide estimated period that would include all physical presence in a year. Exact dates for every entry/exit are not required. For example, for current year, if you expect to stay during spring and fall for school, then you might enter 1/01/19 - 12/31/19.
  • Past Visa History > Number of days present in the United States?: Estimate okay based on entire period of time expected to stay in this year. For current year, do not stop count based on date of signature or submission of this document.
  • Past Visa History > Are you leaving the US this year?: Refers to final departure/completion in current visa status. If you are continuing in same status the next year, answer "no."
  • Past Visa History > Have you taken any treaty benefits during the listed year?: Refers to tax treaty benefits, such as exemption from taxes for certain income such as scholarships.
  • If you had any US entries before the last listed date, please include on a separate sheet in the same table format.

Section C. Tax Status Determination

  • In the table, reference the visa history on the first page. Do NOT count any days during your first 5 years in the United States in which you held an F, J, or M student visa.

Section D. Exemption from Withholding for the Nonresident Alien

  • Check your home country's tax treaty with the U.S. There is usually section article for "students." That article will explain whether you have a tax exemption for your scholarship or not. If you can claim a tax exemption, then select "yes" for questions #2.
  • If you have a tax exemption but do not choose to claim it, select "No: I choose not to claim a treaty exemption."
  • If you cannot claim an exemption, then select "No: I cannot claim a tax treaty exemption."

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How do I find my country's tax treaty with the U.S.?
A: On the IRS website, you can find the tax treaties the U.S. has with different countries. When you find your country, click the link to get to the treaty page. Then, click the link for the "Income Tax Treaty." If you do not find your country, then your country does not have a tax treaty with the U.S.

Q: How do I know if my scholarship is tax exempt?
A: On most treaties, there will be an Article covering "Students." For example, Norway has an Article 16 for "Student and Trainees." To help you understand the wording of the article, you can cross-reference the table for "Compensation for Personal Services Performed in the United State Exempt from U.S. Income Tax Under Income Tax Treaties," which will illustrate the meaning of the articles. Not all treaties will have exemptions for scholarships even though they have an article on students. Be careful to note the source of the scholarship: "foreign" (outside the U.S.) or U.S.-based. The treaty may only exempt taxes on scholarships from a "foreign" source (scholarship from outside the U.S.). Some exemptions also carry time limits. For example, Norway only gives tax exemptions for U.S.-based scholarships up to 5 years related to studying at a university.

Q: If I have a tax treaty, why is there tax withheld from my overaward?
A: Most likely it is because you did not provide an SSN or ITIN. Without a tax ID, you cannot claim the treaty benefits. Whenever you receive a scholarship, it would be a good idea to apply for an ITIN if you are not planning to work, so that you can claim the tax treaty benefits. You can also apply at the time you file an income tax return.

Q: If I am a resident for tax purposes according to the WH-1, why is there tax withheld from my overaward?
A: Most likely it is because you did not provide an SSN or ITIN. Without a tax ID, you cannot claim the resident status. Whenever you receive a scholarship, it might be a good idea to apply for an ITIN if you are not planning to work, so that you can claim resident status. You can also apply at the time you file an income tax return.

Q: Is it necessary to have an SSN or ITIN to get an overaward?
A: No. But you cannot claim a tax treaty benefit or resident status without one.

After completing the WH-1, you must do one of the following:

  1. IF CLAIMING TAX TREATY BENEFIT ON WH-1: download and complete the W-8BEN, and complete Parts I, II, and III. If you do not have an SSN or ITIN, you may not claim a tax treaty benefit.
  2. IF NOT CLAIMING A TAX TREATY BENEFIT ON WH-1:  download and complete the W-8BEN, and complete Parts I and III only.
  3. IF A RESIDENT FOR TAX PURPOSES after passing the Substantial Presence Test on the WH-1:  do no submit a W-8BEN. If you do not have an SSN or ITIN, you may not claim resident alien status.

See a sample W-8BEN with helpful hints, or read the helpful hints below.


Part I: Identification of Beneficial Owner

  • 1. Name of Individual who is the beneficial owner: Enter your name.
  • 3. Permanent residence address: This is the address where you were living immediately before entering the U.S. It is the country for which you are claiming tax treaty benefits, if applicable.
  • 4. Mailing address (if different from above): Enter your U.S. mailing address if you intend to stay after the current year.
  • 5. U.S. taxpayer identification number: If you do not have an SSN or ITIN, do not enter anything.
  • 6. Foreign tax identifying number: This does not apply to you. Do not enter anything.
  • 7. Reference number(s): This does not apply to you. Do not enter anything.
  • 8. Date of birth: This does not apply to you. Do not enter anything.

Part II: Claim of Tax Treaty Benefits

  • 9. I certify that the beneficial owner is a resident of: Enter the country for which you are claiming tax treaty benefits.
  • 10. The beneficial owner is claiming the provisions of Article and paragraph: Check your tax treaty. You should look under the section article for "students." In the article, there should be a paragraph or line providing tax exemption for scholarships. For example, for Norway, a student would enter "16 (1)," which refers to Article 16, paragraph 1.
  • 10. ...of the treaty identified on line 9 above to claim a: Check your tax treaty article and paragraph. It normally allows a 0% tax withholding.
  • 10. (specify type of income): Enter "scholarship."
  • 10. Explain the additional conditions in the Article and paragraph the beneficial owner meets to be eligible for the rate of withholding: Enter "student."

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Do I have to submit a W-8BEN even though I am not claiming tax treaty benefits?
A: Yes, except if you passed the Substantial Presence Test and are a Resident for Tax Purposes.

You will need to make copies of your:

Submit these copies with your tax documents.

Before coming to ISS, log into ISS Student Request and submit a request for "Scholarship Overaward." This will help track your forms.

Then, come to the ISS Office and submit:

  • signed and completed WH-1 (MUST BE ORIGINAL)
  • signed and completed W-8BEN (MUST BE ORIGINAL) - You do not have to submit W-8BEN if you pass the Substantial Presence Test on the WH-1 and are a Resident for Tax Purposes.
  • copy of passport ID page
  • copy of visa
  • copy of I-20 or DS-2019
  • copy of I-94

Do not submit via email. If you cannot come in person, then you must mail the documents to ISS. Incomplete packets will not be accepted.

  1. ISS will check for completion and forward to UH Disbursing Office.
  2. UH Disbursing Office will determine and/or update your tax status. Depending on your tax status, you may or may not have taxes withheld from your overaward.
  3. If your tax status is "resident alien" or you may still benefit from a tax treaty that exempts your award from taxes, then you will receive the overaward from the Cashier's Office in the form of a mailed check or eRefund. We strongly recommend signing up for eRefund!
  4. If your tax status requires tax withholding, then the UH Disbursing Office will send an overaward check to ISS Office for pick-up. If you updated your WH-1 with a foreign address (because you are outside the U.S.), then your check will be mailed to that address.
  5. ISS Office will notify you if you need to pick up your check.
  6. This process may take 2-4 weeks from the date of submission.

Please do NOT contact the UH Disbursing Office to check on the status of your overaward.