Lifetime Learning Credit

If you or your dependent is enrolled in undergraduate and graduate school, you may benefit from the Lifetime Learning Credit, which covers up to $2,000 in education expenses.

In 2016 the rules for the Lifetime Learning Credit haven’t been altered from other years. Not considering any phase-outs, the credit is still worth 20% of qualifying educational costs, up to $10,000 ($2,000 credit limit).


The Lifetime Learning Credit can apply to students who aren’t able to claim the American Opportunity Credit due to limitations on years of study or course load requirements. Because of this, the Lifetime Learning Credit is also available to graduate level students, and those who aren’t working toward a degree, but are taking vocational courses.

This credit applies to the taxpayer, their spouse, and any dependents. Regardless of how many students are in your house, the credit only accounts for a maximum of $10,000 in expenses, with a credit worth $2,000 at the top level.

You aren’t able to claim both education credits – Lifetime Learning and American Opportunity Credit – for the same student in one year. You can claim the AOC for eligible students in your house along with the Lifetime Learning Credit for a different student’s expenses.

Qualified Expenses

The Lifetime Learning Credit considers tuition and mandatory fees for enrollment. You can claim expenses for things like books and other required materials, but only if you have to purchase them from the school. Room and board and other optional expenses aren’t eligible to be counted for the credit purposes.


If your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is higher than specific thresholds, the Lifetime Learning Credit begins to phase-out.

In 2016, the MAGI range for single taxpayers is $55,000 to $65,000. Married couples who file a joint return has a MAGI phase-out between $110,000 to $130,000. No matter what your income is, you can’t claim the credit if you file your return using Married, filing separate.