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Who is eligible to take the American Opportunity Tax Credit?

SOLVEDby TurboTax2886Updated December 12, 2023

Qualifications for claiming the American Opportunity Tax Credit are:

  • You paid an eligible student's qualified education expenses for higher education at any college, university, or vocational school with a student aid program administered by the US Department of Education.
  • The eligible student is you, your spouse, or a dependent on your return.
  • For the full credit, your MAGI (modified adjusted gross income) is less than $80,000 ($160,000 if you're filing jointly).
    • For a reduced credit, your MAGI is between $80,000 and $90,000 ($160,000 and $180,000 if you're filing jointly).
    • There is no credit given if your MAGI is above $90,000 ($180,000 if you’re filing jointly).

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.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit cannot be claimed on Married Filing Separately returns nor under any of these conditions:

  • The student is a dependent on someone else's return.
  • The student is a nonresident alien (unless the student's spouse is a resident and they file a joint return treating both as residents, or the parents claim the student as a dependent on their joint return).
  • The student had a felony drug conviction.

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