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My son attended college during 2019 and 2020 he graduated 2020 of last year. The message I get ask did your college student graduate prior to 2019 and I answer no. Which allow me to claim the educational credit.  is  the correct. He has been attending college part time for roughly 5 years. Is he still entitled to this credit?




2 Replies
Level 15


Simple answer: yes.


But, it's not clear which credit (American Opportunity Credit [AOC] or Lifetime Learning credit [LLC]) you got.

There is a 4 time limit to claiming the AOC (the much more generous of the two). Since  this is his fifth calendar year, you may not be eligible. You have to tell TurboTax how many times you (and your son) claimed it in the past. There is no limit on how may times the LLC can be claimed.


You say your son has been going to school part time.  That brings up the question as to whether you are able to claim him as a dependent. 

There are two types of dependents, "Qualifying Children"(QC) and standard ("Qualifying Relative" in IRS parlance even though they don't have to actually be related). There is no income limit for a QC but there is an age limit, Full time student status, a relationship test and residence test. Only a QC qualifies a taxpayer for the Earned Income Credit. They are interrelated but the rules are different for each.

The support test is different for each type. The support test, for a QC, is only that the child didn't provide more than half his own support. The support test for a Qualifying Relative is that the taxpayer provided more than half the relative's support.


A person can still be a Qualifying relative dependent, if not a Qualifying Child, if he meets the 6 tests for claiming a dependent:

  1. Closely Related OR live with the taxpayer ALL year
  2. His/her gross taxable income for the year must be less than $4300 (2020).
  3. The taxpayer must have provided more than 1/2 his support

In either case:

  1. He must be a US citizen or resident of the US, Canada or Mexico
  2. He must not file a joint return with his spouse or be claiming a dependent of his own
  3. He must not be the qualifying child of another taxpayer
Expert Alumni


The American Opportunity Credit can be claimed 4 years.

An eligible student is defined as a student who:

  • Is enrolled at least half-time in a program leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized credential.
  • Had at least one academic period beginning during the year.
  • Didn't claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit for more than three previous years.
  • Didn't complete the first four years of post-secondary education before the beginning of the year.

Now if he has claimed that credit 4 years already he can claim the Lifetime Credit

Lifetime Learning Credit


Generally, if you paid for qualified education expenses for an academic period beginning in any tax year or in the first three months of the next year, then you're allowed to take the Lifetime Learning Credit


TurboTax will automatically allow the credit that he qualifies for if he answers the questions accurately.


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