Students displaying flags from various countries

Social Security and Taxes

Office of International Programs

Social Security

Your social security number is assigned to you by the Social Security Administration when you start working. Your social security number can also serve as a form of identification when establishing credit, getting a driver's license, renting or buying a house, and so on. You can only get a social security number if you have a job.

Applying for a Social Security Number

In order to apply for a SSN, you will need to visit the Social Security Administration with the following documents:

  • A completed Social Security Application
  • An employment offer letter from USC Aiken that is stamped and signed by an international student advisor. (This letter is obtained from your hiring department and must be stamped by OIP.)
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • I-94
  • I-20

For a social security application and a sample employment verification letter, please review the Social Security Application Packet.

Income Tax

Income is taxable in the United States. If you were present in the United States at any point during the previous calendar year, you should file for taxes when filing season begins (February through April of each year). The filing deadline is April 15th of each year.

Understanding Taxes as an International Student

In the United States, all adults present in the country are responsible for filing taxes. As an international student, this includes you, regardless of whether or not you have employment.

New Students

When you arrive to the U.S. and go through orientation, you should submit a Foreign National Tax Information Form to the International Tax Office as soon as possible. This form allows our International Tax Office to check any tax treaties that may exempt you from paying taxes, either on scholarships you receive or employment income you earn, while in the United States. However, even if exempt, you still need to file your taxes each year. This form only needs to be completed one time.

All Students

If you were present in the U.S. during the previous calendar year, you need to file your taxes. It does not matter if you had employment--all students need to file. Are you worried about how to do this? Never fear! OIP offers assistance for all F-1 students through the Sprintax tax filing program, which is customized for international students. This information will be available February through April of each year. 

After 5 Year of Residence in the United States

If you have been in the U.S. for 5 years or more, you may qualify as a resident for tax purposes. This means that the Sprintax program may not work for you, and you may need to pursue your own tax filing assistance through Turbotax or another similar company. The Office of International Programs cannot advise on this, but Sprintax should provide assistance with determining whether or not you are eligible for their tax filing software.

Note: The OIP staff are not tax specialists, and we legally cannot advise you on your tax returns nor on filing your taxes.