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When can you file education tax credits?

Studying at a university in the US can be pretty expensive.

college students

You can get some help paying for your education.


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American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit

There are two tax credits that can help to bring down the fees associated with getting an education. The credits are American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC). Find additional details here.

In order to claim the credit you must:

  • you, your dependent, or third party pays qualified expenses for higher education
  • an eligible student enrolled at an eligible educational institution
  • the eligible student is you, your spouse, or a dependent you claim on your tax return

The AOTC tax credit is $2,500 toward the cost of tuition, fees and other required course materials. The money is paid out during the tax year.

40% of the credit you qualify for can be refunded back to you if it is more than the tax you owe. This can be up to $1,000.

AOTC eligibility

In order to receive the AOTC, you need to be as student that:

  • was enrolled at least half time in a program working towards a degree, certificate, or educational credential for at least one academic period
  • has not completed the first four years of college following high school graduation
  • has not claimed the AOTC for the student for more than four years
  • has not been convicted of a federal or state felony drug offense

You can claim the AOTC all four years that you pay tuition as long as you remain an eligible student and you are not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. The credit will be available for qualifying expenses during each tax year.


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