Two Credits to Alleviate Educational Expenses

College students are eligible for some important tax credits that can benefit you in a big way when you file your return. Whether you’re enrolled yourself, or you’re the parent of a college student, you can claim different educational deductions and credits.

There are two different types of educational tax credits, and each one is different and targets a separate population of students. Review the following information to determine which credit suits your situation, and don’t forget to claim it when you file your return.

American Opportunity Credit

Students working toward an undergraduate degree may be eligible to claim this credit, which is worth up to $2,500. While the credit is only good for expenses incurred during the first four years of college, up to $1,000 of it is refundable. That means, even if you don’t owe taxes, you may still get some cash back. The income threshold for this credit is $80,000 for single filers ($160,000 for married, joint filers). The credit decreases as your income rises, and remains in effect until 2017.

Lifetime Learning Credit

This credit picks up where the AOC leaves off, and has a wider range of students. This credit can be applied toward expenses incurred as a graduate or undergraduate student, and is even applicable toward vocational, technical, and professional education. There’s also no cut off for the amount of years for which you can claim this credit.

Unlike the AOC, the Lifetime Learning Credit isn’t refundable, and is limited to your tax liability. While the full credit amount is $2,000, a student with a tax bill of $1,000 for the year is only entitled to a $1,000 credit.