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Publication 970

Tax Benefits for Education


What's New(p2)

Lifetime learning credit.(p2)
For 2011, the amount of your lifetime learning credit is gradually reduced (phased out) if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is between $51,000 and $61,000 ($102,000 and $122,000 if you file a joint return). You cannot claim a credit if your MAGI is $61,000 or more ($122,000 or more if you file a joint return). This is an increase from the 2010 limits of $50,000 and $60,000 ($100,000 and $120,000 if filing a joint return). For more information, see chapter 3, Lifetime Learning Credit.
Student loan interest deduction.(p2)
The amount of your student loan interest deduction for 2011 is gradually reduced (phased out) if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is between $60,000 and $75,000 ($120,000 and $150,000 if you file a joint return). You cannot take a deduction if your MAGI is $75,000 or more ($150,000 or more if you file a joint return). This is an increase from the 2010 limits of $55,000 and $70,000 ($115,000 and $145,000 if filing a joint return). See chapter 4, Student Loan Interest Deduction, for more information.
Increased income thresholds for education savings bond program.(p2)
For 2011, the amount of your interest exclusion will be gradually reduced (phased out) if your filing status is married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child, and your modified adjusted gross income is between $106,650 and $136,650. You cannot take the deduction if your MAGI is $136,650 or more. For 2010, the limits that applied to you were $105,100 and $135,100.
For all other filing statuses, your interest exclusion for 2011 is phased out if your MAGI is between $71,100 and $86,100. You cannot take the deduction if your MAGI is $86,100 or more. For 2010, the limits that applied to you were $70,100 and $85,100. For more information, see chapter 10, Education Savings Bond Program.
Business deduction for work-related education.(p2)
For 2011, if you drive your car to and from school and qualify to deduct transportation expenses, the amount you can deduct for miles driven from January 1, 2011, through June 30, 2011 is 51 cents per mile. The amount you can deduct for miles driven from July 1, 2011, through December 31, 2011 is 55.5 cents per mile. This is up from 50 cents per mile during 2010. See chapter 12, Business Deduction for Work-Related Education, for more information.
Future developments.(p2)
The IRS has created a page on for more information about Publication 970, at Information about any future developments affecting Publication 970 (such as legislation enacted after we release it) will be posted on that page.


Hope Credit.(p2)
For 2011, the Hope credit is not available. However, you may be able to claim an American opportunity or lifetime learning credit. See chapter 2, American Opportunity Credit, and chapter 3, Lifetime Learning Credit, for more information.
Estimated tax payments.(p2)
If you have taxable income from any of your education benefits and the payer does not withhold enough income tax, you may need to make estimated tax payments. For more information, see Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.
Photographs of missing children.(p2)
The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.


This publication explains tax benefits that may be available to you if you are saving for or paying education costs for yourself or, in many cases, another student who is a member of your immediate family. Most benefits apply only to higher education.

What is in this publication.(p2)

Chapter 1, Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Tuition Reductions, explains the tax treatment of various types of educational assistance, including scholarships, fellowships, and tuition reductions.
Two tax credits for which you may be eligible are explained in chapter 2, American Opportunity Credit, and chapter 3, Lifetime Learning Credit. These benefits, which reduce the amount of income tax you may have to pay, are:
Ten other types of benefits are explained in chapters 4 through 12. With these benefits, you may be able to:
Note.You generally cannot claim more than one of the benefits described in the lists above for the same qualifying education expense.
Comparison table.(p3)
Some of the features of these benefits are highlighted in Appendix B, Highlights of Education Tax Benefits for Tax Year 2011, later, in this publication. This general comparison table may guide you in determining which benefits you may be eligible for and which chapters you may want to read.
When you figure your taxes, you may want to compare these tax benefits so you can choose the method(s) that gives you the lowest tax liability. If you qualify, you may find that a combination of credit(s) and deduction(s) gives you the lowest tax.

Analyzing your tax withholding.(p3)

After you estimate your education tax benefits for the year, you may be able to reduce the amount of your federal income tax withholding. Also, you may want to recheck your withholding during the year if your personal or financial situation changes. See Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Tax Withholding, for more information.


In this publication, wherever appropriate, we have tried to use the same or similar terminology when referring to the basic components of each education benefit. Some of the terms used are:
Even though the same term, such as qualified education expenses, is used to label a basic component of many of the education benefits, the same expenses are not necessarily allowed for each benefit. For example, the cost of room and board is a qualified education expense for the qualified tuition program, but not for the education savings bond program.
Many of the terms used in the publication are defined in the glossary near the end of the publication. The glossary is not intended to be a substitute for reading the chapter on a particular education benefit, but it will give you an overview of how certain terms are used in discussing the different benefits.

Comments and suggestions.(p3)

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Individual and Speciality Forms and
  Publications Branch
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
You can email us at Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line. You can also send us comments from Select "Comment on Tax Forms and Publications" under "Information About."
Although we cannot respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications.(p3)
Visit to download forms and publications, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

Tax questions.(p3)
If you have a tax question, check the information available on or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.


Useful items

You may want to see:

 463 Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses
 525 Taxable and Nontaxable Income
 550 Investment Income and Expenses
 590 Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
Form (and Instructions)
 1040: U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
 1040A: U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
 1040EZ: Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents
 1040NR: U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return
 1040NR-EZ: U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents
 2106: Employee Business Expenses
 2106-EZ: Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses
 5329: Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans and Other Tax-Favored Accounts
 8815: Exclusion of Interest From Series EE and I U.S. Savings Bonds Issued After 1989
 8863: Education Credits
 8917: Tuition and Fees Deduction
 Schedule A (Form 1040): Itemized Deductions

See chapter 13, How To Get Tax Help, for information about getting these publications and forms.