Education Tax Credits: What Every Student & Parent Must Know

Education Tax Credits: What Every Student & Parent Must Know has become a crucial topic of discussion as we approach the tax year 2023. With rising tuition costs and other educational expenses, students and their families need to explore ways to ease the financial burden. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive guide on education tax credits, specifically the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC).

Types of Education Tax Credits

American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)

The AOTC provides a maximum credit of $2,500 per eligible student for the first four years of higher education. The credit is generally 100% of the first $2,000 spent on qualified educational expenses and 25% of the next $2,000.

Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC)

Unlike the AOTC, the LLC is not limited to the first four years of post-secondary education. The credit is up to $2,000 per tax return and it covers 20% of the first $10,000 of qualified educational expenses.

Eligibility Criteria

To claim either of these credits, the taxpayer (usually the student or the parent) must meet certain criteria, such as:

  • A valid Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  • Enrolled in an eligible educational institution recognized by the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
  • No federal or state felony convictions.

Calculating the Credit Amount

To calculate the education tax credit, one should consider:

  • Qualified educational expenses (tuition, academic fees, etc.)
  • Scholarships or grants received, which are subtracted from the qualified educational expenses.
  • Modified adjusted gross income, as both credits phase out for higher earners.

How to Claim Education Tax Credits

  1. Receive Form 1098-T (Tuition Statement) from the educational institution.
  2. Fill out Form 8863 and attach it to your tax return.
  3. Use the IRS’ interactive tool to verify eligibility and calculate the credit amount.

Limitations and Restrictions

  • Both credits can’t be claimed in the same tax year for the same student.
  • Non-qualified expenses, such as room, board, transportation, and insurance, cannot be considered.
  • Tax credits cannot exceed tax liability, but AOTC can give a refundable credit up to $1,000.

Tips for Maximizing Benefits

  • Consider student rewards credit cards that offer cash back on educational expenses.
  • Keep track of medical expenses, home improvements, and other tax deductions that can lower your taxable income and increase the tax benefits.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Claiming credits for non-qualified living expenses like room and board.
  • Forgetting to account for scholarships and grants which reduce your qualified educational expenses.


Education Tax Credits: What Every Student & Parent Must Know is an important guide for families navigating the financial complexities of higher education. Armed with this information, taxpayers can make more informed choices and possibly save thousands of dollars.

Additional Resources

  • IRS Guidelines on Education Credits
  • Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs
  • Comprehensive Guide on Tax Liability and Deductions

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