LIHTC and Student Status

Written by Jennifer Borland, Spectrum Enterprises

On the day before Mother’s Day, when I was 22, I graduated from college. As is often the case, the graduates marching that day were arranged in alphabetical order by last name. The woman ahead of me was 58 years old; she was full time undergraduate accepting her diploma… just one day before her daughter would do the same.

Of course student status is a key element of LIHTC eligibility. Students come in all sorts of forms and ages; it is never safe to assume that a person is not, has not been, or will not be a full time student. Student status is only an issue if every household member meets the definition of a student, but you have to accurately determine who is and who isn’t a student. Sometimes this can be tricky.

BACK TO SCHOOL REMINDER: A person is a student if they have been a student for any part of 5 months of the current calendar year or the 12 months following the effective date of the certification.

The months need not be consecutive or complete. Just one day of the month, equals the whole month for student status purposes.

If your student status form only asks “are you or will you be a student,” it is missing the part about “have you been?” Unfortunately, we see this mistake quite often. We also see forms that are worded properly, but the applicant has misunderstood the question and answered inaccurately.

Regardless of how your form is worded, get in the habit of asking, “When were you last a student?” If a person has been a student during the current calendar year, you’ll have to verify status with the school.

There are several little things that could indicate a person meets the LIHTC definition of a student though they may not consider themselves a student. Look for signs on the application: no rental history; job that is brand new in May or June with no previous employment; dates of residence for previous address are August – May.

For those of you who are no longer required to do annual certifications, don’t forget to verify student status annually. For 100% LIHTC properties, once a household is income eligible it is always income eligible, but the same is not true of student status.

I bring this up now because this time of year we see a large number of households applying for LIHTC housing with recent college or high school graduates, young children becoming students for the first time, and folks who were students in the spring or summer semesters, but aren’t now. Be careful, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if it seems silly or redundant, you can never be too careful.

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