American Opportunity Credit
The "American Opportunity Credit" modifies the Hope Credit for tax years 2009 and 2010, making the Hope Credit available to a broader range of taxpayers, including many with higher incomes and those who owe no tax. It also adds required course materials to the list of qualifying expenses and allows the credit to be claimed for four post-secondary education years instead of two. Many of those eligible will qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student.
Lifetime Learning Credit
The lifetime learning credit helps parents and students pay for post-secondary education.
For the tax year, you may be able to claim a lifetime learning credit of up to $2,000 ($4,000 for students in Midwestern disaster areas) for qualified education expenses paid for all students enrolled in eligible educational institutions. There is no limit on the number of years the lifetime learning credit can be claimed for each student. However, a taxpayer cannot claim both the Hope or American opportunity credit and lifetime learning credits for the same student in one year. Thus, the lifetime learning credit may be particularly helpful to graduate students, students who are only taking one course and those who are not pursuing a degree.
If you’re eligible to claim the lifetime learning credit and are also eligible to claim the Hope or American opportunity credit for the same student in the same year, you can choose to claim either credit, but not both.
If you pay qualified education expenses for more than one student in the same year, you can choose to take credits on a per-student, per-year basis. This means that, for example, you can claim the Hope or American opportunity credit for one student and the lifetime learning credit for another student in the same year.
Tuition and Fees Deduction
You may be able to claim a tuition deduction of up to $4,000 of qualified education expenses paid during the year for yourself, your spouse, or your dependent. This deduction is taken as an adjustment to income by up to $4,000 and will not provide a direct reduction in your tax due. This deduction may be beneficial to you if, for example, you cannot take the lifetime learning credit because your income is too high.
You may be able to take one of the education credits for your education expenses instead of a tuition and fees deduction. You can choose the one that will give you the lower tax.
You cannot claim this deduction if your filing status is married filing separately or if another person can claim an exemption for you as a dependent on his or her tax return. The qualified expenses must be for higher education.
Student Loan Interest Deduction
You may also be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. And, if your student loan is canceled, you may not have to include any amount in income. The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income so you do not need to itemize your deductions on Schedule A Form 1040.
(Information courtesy of IRS.gov)