The tuition and fees deduction is based on qualified education expenses you pay for yourself, your spouse, or your dependent for whom you claim an exemption on your tax return. Generally, the deduction is allowed for qualified education expenses paid in 2008 in connection with enrollment at an institution of higher education during 2008 or for an academic period beginning in 2008 or in the first 3 months of 2009.
For example, if you paid $1,500 in December 2008 for qualified tuition for the Spring 2009 semester beginning in January 2009, you may be able to use that $1,500 in figuring your 2008 deduction.taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020943
An academic period includes a semester, trimester, quarter, or other period of study (such as a summer school session) as reasonably determined by an educational institution. In the case of an educational institution that uses credit hours or clock hours and does not have academic terms, each payment period can be treated as an academic period.taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020944
You can claim a tuition and fees deduction for qualified education expenses paid with the proceeds of a loan. You use the expenses to figure the deduction for the year in which the expenses are paid, not the year in which the loan is repaid. Treat loan payments sent directly to the educational institution as paid on the date the institution credits the student's account. taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020945
You can claim a tuition and fees deduction for qualified education expenses not refunded when a student withdraws. taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020946
For purposes of the tuition and fees deduction, qualified education expenses are tuition and certain related expenses required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution. taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020947
An eligible educational institution is any college, university, vocational school, or other postsecondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. It includes virtually all accredited public, nonprofit, and proprietary (privately owned profit-making) postsecondary institutions. The educational institution should be able to tell you if it is an eligible educational institution.
Certain educational institutions located outside the United States also participate in the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs.taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink1000118862
Student-activity fees and expenses for course-related books, supplies, and equipment are included in qualified education expenses only if the fees and expenses must be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.
In the following examples, assume that each student is an eligible student and each college or university an eligible educational institution.taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink1000118852
Jackson is a sophomore in University V's degree program in dentistry. This year, in addition to tuition, he is required to pay a fee to the university for the rental of the dental equipment he will use in this program. Because the equipment rental fee must be paid to University V for enrollment and attendance, Jackson's equipment rental fee is a qualified expense.taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink1000118853
Donna and Charles, both first-year students at College W, are required to have certain books and other reading materials to use in their mandatory first-year classes. The college has no policy about how students should obtain these materials, but any student who purchases them from College W's bookstore will receive a bill directly from the college. Charles bought his books from a friend, so what he paid for them is not a qualified education expense. Donna bought hers at College W's bookstore. Although Donna paid College W directly for her first-year books and materials, her payment is not a qualified education expense because the books and materials are not required to be purchased from College W for enrollment or attendance at the institution.taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink1000118854
When Marci enrolled at College X for her freshman year, she had to pay a separate student activity fee in addition to her tuition. This activity fee is required of all students, and is used solely to fund on-campus organizations and activities run by students, such as the student newspaper and the student government. No portion of the fee covers personal expenses. Although labeled as a student activity fee, the fee is required for Marci's enrollment and attendance at College X. Therefore, it is a qualified expense.taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink1000115364
The definition of qualified education expenses is expanded for students in these areas. In addition to tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution, qualified education expenses for students in Midwestern disaster areas include the following.
- Books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution.
- For a special needs student, expenses that are necessary for that person's enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution.
- For a student who is at least a half-time student, the reasonable costs of room and board, but only to the extent that the costs are not more than the greater of the following two amounts.
- The allowance for room and board, as determined by the eligible educational institution, that was included in the cost of attendance (for federal financial aid purposes) for a particular academic period and living arrangement of the student.
- The actual amount charged if the student is residing in housing owned or operated by the eligible educational institution.
You will need to contact the eligible educational institution for qualified room and board costs.
You cannot do any of the following.
- Deduct qualified education expenses you deduct under any other provision of the law, for example, as a business expense.
- Deduct qualified education expenses for a student on your income tax return if you or anyone else claims a Hope or lifetime learning credit for that same student in the same year.
- Deduct qualified education expenses that have been used to figure the tax-free portion of a distribution from a Coverdell education savings account (ESA) or a qualified tuition program (QTP). For a QTP, this applies only to the amount of tax-free earnings that were distributed, not to the recovery of contributions to the program. See Figuring the Taxable Portion of a Distribution in chapter 7 (Coverdell ESA) and in chapter 8 (QTP).
- Deduct qualified education expenses that have been paid with tax-free interest on U.S. savings bonds (Form 8815). See Figuring the Tax-Free Amount in chapter 10.
- Deduct qualified education expenses that have been paid with tax-free scholarship, grant, or employer- provided educational assistance. See the following section on Adjustments to Qualified Education Expenses.
If you pay qualified education expenses with certain tax-free funds, you cannot claim a deduction for those amounts. You must reduce the qualified education expenses by the amount of any tax-free educational assistance and refund(s) you received.taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020954
- The tax-free part of scholarships and fellowships (see chapter 1),
- Pell grants (see chapter 1),
- Employer-provided educational assistance (see chapter 11),
- Veterans' educational assistance (see chapter 1), and
- Any other nontaxable (tax-free) payments (other than gifts or inheritances) received as educational assistance.
Qualified education expenses do not include expenses for which you, or someone else who paid qualified education expenses on behalf of a student, receive a refund. (For information on expenses paid by a dependent student or third party, see Who Can Claim a Dependent's Expenses
If a refund of expenses paid in 2008 is received before you file your tax return for 2008, simply reduce the amount of the expenses paid by the amount of the refund received. If the refund is received after you file your 2008 tax return, see When Must the Deduction Be Repaid (Recaptured)
, at the end of this chapter.
You are considered to receive a refund of expenses when an eligible educational institution refunds loan proceeds to the lender on behalf of the borrower. Follow the above instructions according to when you are considered to receive the refund. taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020956
Do not reduce qualified education expenses by amounts paid with funds the student receives as:
- Payment for services, such as wages,
- A loan,
- A gift,
- An inheritance, or
- A withdrawal from the student's personal savings.
Do not reduce the qualified education expenses by any scholarship or fellowship reported as income on the student's tax return in the following situations.
- The use of the money is restricted to costs of attendance (such as room and board) other than qualified education expenses.
- The use of the money is not restricted and is used to pay education expenses that are not qualified (such as room and board).
In 2008, Jackie paid $3,000 for tuition and $5,000 for room and board at University X. The university did not require her to pay any fees in addition to her tuition in order to enroll in or attend classes. To help pay these costs, she was awarded a $2,000 scholarship and a $4,000 student loan.
The terms of the scholarship state that it may be used to pay any of Jackie's college expenses. Because she applied it toward her tuition, the scholarship is tax free. Therefore, for purposes of figuring the tuition and fees deduction, she must first use the $2,000 scholarship to reduce her tuition (her only qualified education expense). The student loan is not tax-free educational assistance, so she does not use it to reduce her qualified expenses. Jackie is treated as having paid $1,000 in qualified education expenses ($3,000 tuition – $2,000 scholarship) in 2008.taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020958
The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that Jackie uses the $2,000 scholarship to pay room and board and, therefore, reports her entire scholarship as income on her tax return. In this case, the scholarship is allocated to expenses other than qualified education expenses. Jackie is treated as paying the entire $3,000 tuition with other funds, and can figure her tuition and fees deduction on the entire $3,000. taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020959
Qualified education expenses do not include amounts paid for:
- Medical expenses (including student health fees),
- Room and board (see Students in Midwestern disaster areas under Qualified Education Expenses earlier, for an exception),
- Transportation, or
- Similar personal, living, or family expenses.
This is true even if the amount must be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.
Qualified education expenses generally do not include expenses that relate to any course of instruction or other education that involves sports, games or hobbies, or any noncredit course. However, if the course of instruction or other education is part of the student's degree program, these expenses can qualify. taxmap/pubs/p970-026.htm#en_us_publink100020961
Some eligible educational institutions combine all of their fees for an academic period into one amount. If you do not receive, or do not have access to, an allocation showing how much you paid for qualified education expenses and how much you paid for personal expenses, such as those listed above, contact the institution. The institution is required to make this allocation and provide you with the amount you paid (or were billed) for qualified education expenses on Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement. See Figuring the Deduction
, later, for more information about Form 1098-T.