Can I deduct education expenses for a different or previous year?
Most often, income or a deduction is claimed in the year you actually paid it. If you have education expenses you forgot to include in your taxes for a previous year, you’ll have to go back and change (amend) that year's tax return to claim those expenses. You can’t add in last year’s expenses into this year’s tax return, unfortunately.
If you pay next years tuition this year, that payment will be a deduction in this year, not the following year.
For example: Tuition you paid in December of 2016 for January 2017 courses is a deduction for 2016.
TIP: If you need additional deductions this year, pay deductible expenses by December 31st; if you need deductions next year and can delay them, pay them in January.