Student Loan Concepts Explained: Lifetime Learning Tax Credit

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Claiming the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit can earn you up to $2,000 per tax return on qualified tuition and other education expenses. The three key eligibility criteria stated by the IRS are:

  • You, your dependent or a third party (for example, a relative) pay qualified education expenses for higher education
  • You, your dependent or a third party pay the education expenses for an eligible student enrolled at an eligible educational institution
  • The eligible student is yourself, your spouse or a dependent you listed on your tax return

Who is an eligible student?

If you're taking courses at an accredited institution—and you're enrolled for at least one academic period, such as one semester, in the tax year—you are considered an eligible student. The same goes for your spouse or dependent.

What if I'm financing my degree with loans instead of paying out of pocket?

Yes, you're covered. Expenses paid by cash, check, card, or student loan all qualify. Your Form 1098-T, which your school should send to you by January 31, will tell you how much you've paid in qualified expenses that year.

Your tax credit is determined by several other factors, too: For example, you cannot claim the credit if your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is over $62,000 (for a single filer) and you can claim the full credit only if your MAGI is $52,000 or less.

How can I confirm if I personally am eligible?

The IRS has an interactive app—estimated 10 minutes, start to finish—to help you find out if you're eligible. Check it out!

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