I am really enjoying pursuing a master’s degree in counseling, however I don’t enjoy the loans that have to be taken out to pay for higher education. However, if I’m going to have to pay so much for education, the best thing to do is see how to minimize the cost of that education.
One way to reduce the cost of an education is through secondary means of taking advantage of education tax deductions and credits. First, the more popular education tax credits. The IRS makes available the Hope and Lifelong Learning Education Credits through form 8863. The Hope Credit can be taken for the first two years of higher education, gaining a credit of up to $1,650 per student. After those two years, the same form can be used for the Lifetime Learning Credit - which can also be used throughout graduate school. This credit is for up to 20% of the qualified educational expenses (maximum credit of $2,000 per student).
An alternative to the Education Credits is the Tuition and Fees Deduction which is submitted through form 8917. If eligible, this option makes it possible for an individual to gain an above the line deduction of up to $4,000.
One catch is that of the above three option (Hope Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, Tuition and Fees Deduction), only one can be applied to each student. However, if you have multiple college students in your family a different option can be applied to each student. Since Stacey and I both had graduate classes in 2007, we will be able to take a Lifetime Learning Credit for Stacey’s classes, and a Tuition and Fees Deduction from my classes.
A final method of minimizing the cost of education through a tax advantage is available through the student loan interest deduction. This is also an above the line deduction, allowing you to deduct all the interest that was paid on qualified student loans before your adjusted gross income is computed. This deduction is taken as a line item, line 33 on form 1040, instructions can be found on page 30 of the form 1040 instruction manual.
Higher education is an investment. However, hopefully if you are making this investment you are also taking advantage of these tax tips to make the investment as small as possible! If you know of any more tax incentives for those in higher education, post comments!