skip navigation

Search Help
Navigation Help

Topic Index

Tax Topics

About Tax Map Website
Publication 970

Chapter 6
Tuition and Fees Deduction(p37)


You may be able to deduct qualified education expenses paid during the year for yourself, your spouse, or your dependent(s). 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, as explained later under Qualified Education Expenses.
What is the tax benefit of the tuition and fees deduction.(p37)
The tuition and fees deduction can reduce the amount of your income subject to tax by up to $4,000.
This deduction is taken as an adjustment to income. This means you can claim this deduction even if you do not itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). This deduction may be beneficial to you if you do not qualify for the American opportunity or lifetime learning credits.
You can choose the education benefit that will give you the lowest tax. You may want to compare the tuition and fees deduction to the education credits (chapters 2 and 3).
Table 6-1 summarizes the features of the tuition and fees deduction.

Can You Claim the Deduction(p37)

The following rules will help you determine if you can claim the tuition and fees deduction.

Who Can Claim the Deduction(p37)

Generally, you can claim the tuition and fees deduction if all three of the following requirements are met.
  1. You pay qualified education expenses of higher education.
  2. You pay the education expenses for an eligible student.
  3. The eligible student is yourself, your spouse, or your dependent for whom you claim an exemption on your tax return.
"Qualified education expenses" are defined on the next page. "Eligible students" are defined later under Who Is an Eligible Student. A "dependent for whom you claim an exemption" is defined later under Who Can Claim a Dependent's Expenses.

Table 6-1. Tuition and Fees Deduction at a Glance

Do not rely on this table alone. Refer to the text for complete details.

Question Answer
What is the maximum benefit? You can reduce your income subject to tax by up to $4,000.
Limit on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) $160,000 if married filing a joint return;
$80,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)
Where is the deduction taken? As an adjustment to income on
Form 1040 or Form 1040A.
For whom must the expenses be paid? A student enrolled in an eligible educational institution who is either:
• you,
• your spouse, or
• your dependent for whom you claim an exemption.
What tuition and fees are deductible? Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible postsecondary educational institution, but not including personal, living, or family expenses, such as room and board.

Who Cannot Claim the Deduction(p37)

You cannot claim the tuition and fees deduction if any of the following apply.