To claim the Hope credit, the student for whom you pay qualified education expenses must be an eligible student. This is a student who meets all of the following requirements.
- The student did not have expenses that were used to figure a Hope credit in any 2 earlier tax years.
- The student had not completed the first 2 years of postsecondary education (generally, the freshman and sophomore years of college) before 2009.
- For at least one academic period beginning in 2009, the student was enrolled at least half-time in a program leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential.
- The student has not been convicted of any federal or state felony for possessing or distributing a controlled substance as of the end of 2009.
These requirements are also shown in Figure 3-2
on the next page.
A student who was awarded 2 years of academic credit for postsecondary work completed before 2009 has completed the first 2 years of postsecondary education. This student generally would not be an eligible student for purposes of the Hope credit.
Any academic credit awarded solely on the basis of the student's performance on proficiency examinations is disregarded in determining whether the student has completed 2 years of postsecondary education.
A student was enrolled at least half-time if the student was taking at least half the normal full-time work load for his or her course of study.
The standard for what is half of the normal full-time work load is determined by each eligible educational institution. However, the standard may not be lower than any of those established by the U.S. Department of Education under the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Marty graduated from high school in June 2008. In September, he enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at College U, and attended full-time for both the 2008 fall and 2009 spring semesters. For the 2009 fall semester, Marty was enrolled less than half-time. Because Marty was enrolled in an undergraduate degree program on at least a half-time basis for at least one academic period that began during 2008 and at least one academic period that began during 2009, he is an eligible student for tax years 2008 and 2009 (including the 2009 fall semester when he enrolled at College U on less than a half-time basis). taxmap/pubs/p970-013.htm#en_us_publink1000178104
After taking classes at College V on a half-time basis for the 2008 spring and fall semesters, Sharon became a full-time student for the 2009 spring semester. College V classified Sharon as a second-semester sophomore for the 2009 spring semester and as a first-semester junior for the 2009 fall semester. Because College V did not classify Sharon as having completed the first 2 years of postsecondary education as of the beginning of 2009, Sharon is an eligible student for tax year 2009. Therefore, the qualified education expenses paid for the 2009 spring semester and the 2009 fall semester are taken into account in calculating any Hope credit for 2009. taxmap/pubs/p970-013.htm#en_us_publink1000178105
During the 2008 fall semester, Luis was a high school student who took classes on a half-time basis at College X. Luis was not enrolled as part of a degree program at College X because College X only admits students to a degree program if they have a high school diploma or equivalent. Because Luis was not enrolled in a degree program at College X during 2008, Luis was not an eligible student for tax year 2008. taxmap/pubs/p970-013.htm#en_us_publink1000178106
The facts are the same as in Example 3. During the 2009 spring semester, Luis again attended College X but not as part of a degree program. Luis graduated from high school in June 2009. For the 2009 fall semester, Luis enrolled as a full-time student in College X as part of a degree program, and College X awarded Luis credit for his prior coursework at College X. Because Luis was enrolled in a degree program at College X for the 2009 fall term on at least a half-time basis, Luis is an eligible student for all of tax year 2009. Therefore, the qualified education expenses paid for classes taken at College X during both the 2009 spring semester (during which Luis was not enrolled in a degree program) and the 2009 fall semester are taken into account in computing any Hope credit. taxmap/pubs/p970-013.htm#en_us_publink1000178107
Diana graduated from high school in June 2007. In January 2008, Diana enrolled in a 1-year postsecondary certificate program on a full-time basis to obtain a certificate as a travel agent. Diana completed the program in December 2008 and was awarded a certificate. In January 2009, she enrolled in a 1-year postsecondary certificate program on a full-time basis to obtain a certificate as a computer programmer. Diana is an eligible student for both tax years 2008 and 2009 because she meets the degree requirement, the work load requirement, and the year of study requirement for those years.