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Education Credits

Question: Who can claim the American opportunity credit, the expansion of the Hope Scholarship credit?


The American opportunity credit modifies the Hope Scholarship credit for any tax years beginning in 2009 through 2017. The maximum amount of the credit is $2,500.00 and 40% of the Hope credit is refundable (up to $1,000).

You may claim the Hope Scholarship credit if all of the following requirements are met:

  • You pay qualified tuition and related expenses (see the definition below) for the first 4 years of postsecondary education.
  • The qualified tuition and related expenses are for an eligible student (see the definition below).
  • You must state the name and taxpayer identification number of an eligible student on the return.
  • You must also state the name and address of the qualifying educational institution and in most cases show the federal employer identification number of the institution.
  • Your modified adjusted gross income is below a certain dollar limitation.
  • You are not listed as a dependent in the exemption section of another person's tax return (such as your parents').
  • If you are married, your filing status is married filing jointly.
  • You do not claim the lifetime learning credit for the same student in the same year.
  • If you (or your spouse) are a nonresident alien for any part of the tax year, the nonresident alien elects to be treated as a resident alien for tax purposes. (For additional information, refer to Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens).

In general, qualified tuition and related expenses means tuition, fees, and course materials required for the enrollment or attendance of you, your spouse, or your dependent with respect to whom you are allowed a deduction, at an eligible educational institution.  

To be an eligible student, generally, the student must:

  • Have been enrolled in a program that leads to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential for at least one academic period beginning in the tax year.
  • Carry at least half the normal full-time workload for the course of study.
  • Not have made an election to claim the Hope Scholarship credit for any 4 earlier tax years.
  • Not have completed the first 4 years of postsecondary education before this tax year.
  • Must have been free of any federal or state felony conviction for possessing or distributing a controlled substance as of the end of the tax year.

Additional Information:

Category: Child Care Credit, Other Credits
Subcategory: Education Credits

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The OMB number for this study is 1545-1432.
If you have any comments regarding this study, please write to:
IRS, Tax Products Coordinating Committee
1111 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20224