The American Opportunity Tax Credit

Extended through 2017!

You could get a $1,000 student aid check even if you don't owe income tax!

The American Opportunity Tax Credit was originally a temporary replacement, in 2009 and 2010 only, for the Hope Tax Credit. It was authorized by the economic stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The credit was later extended and expanded for 2011 and 2012 via the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2010, and then extended again through December 2017 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The credit is partially refundable, which means that you may be eligible to claim the tax credit and receive a refund check from the IRS, even if you owe no income tax, and are not otherwise required to file a return.

The amount of credit you can receive is up to $2,500 per student, depending on your income, the amount you spent on higher education expenses, and how many eligible students are in your family. Up to $1,000 of the credit can be refunded if your credit is more than the amount you owe.


Bullet You must have qualified higher education expenses incurred during the first four years of undergraduate study at an eligible school in which you were enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized credential.
Bullet Your modified adjusted gross income must be $90,000 or less if single, and $180,000 or less if married and filing jointly. (To be eligible for the full credit, the income limits are $80,000 or less if single and $160,000 or less if married and filing jointly.)
Bullet Qualified education expenses include: tuition, course-related expenses (books, supplies, equipment), and mandatory student activity fees (less the amount of certain scholarships and grants that the student may have received).
Bullet If you are claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return (e.g., your parents’ tax return), only the person who claims you can apply for the credit.
Bullet Students convicted of a federal or state drug felony for possessing or distributing a controlled substance are not eligible for this tax credit.

How to Claim Your Benefits:

To determine your eligibility and claim education tax benefits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit , you must file a federal income tax return—even if you do not owe income tax and are not otherwise required to file.

Tax information is provided for informational purposes only. Student Financial Aid Services, Inc. is not engaged in providing legal, accounting, or tax services. Please consult a tax professional, the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS Publication 970 for tax information and assistance. A U.S. Treasury regulation requires us to inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any hyperlinks) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to any party, who is not the original and intended recipient of this communication, any transaction or matter addressed herein.