Comparison of Education Credits

If you have more than one student eligible for the American Opportunity Credit, you must claim the same credit for all eligible students. You cannot claim both the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit on the same tax return for one student. However, you can claim both the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit on the same return but not for the same student.

 

American Opportunity Credit

Lifetime Learning Credit

Maximum credit  Maximum credit up to $2,500 credit per eligible student. Up to $2,000 ($4,000 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area) credit per return .
Limit on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) $180,000 if married filling jointly adjusted gross $90,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er). $120,000 if married filling jointly; $60,000 if single, head of household, or   qualifying widow(er).
Refundable or nonrefundable 40% of credit may be refundable; the rest is nonrefundable.
Number of years of postsecondary education Available only for the first 4 years of postsecondary education. Available for all years of postsecondary and for courses to acquire or improve job skills. 
Number of tax years credit available Available only for 4 tax years per (including any year(s)  Hope Scholarship Credit was claimed.) Available for an unlimited number of years.
Type of degree required Student must be pursuing an undergraduate degree or other recognized education credential. Student does not need to be pursuing a degree or other recognized education credentials. 
Number of courses Student must be enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period  beginning during the year.  Available for one or more courses. 
Felony drug conviction No felony drug convictions on student’s records. Felony drug convictions are permitted.
Qualified expenses Tuition and required enrollment fees.  Course-related books, supplies and equipment do not need to be purchased from the institution to qualify.
Payments for academic periods Payments made in 2010 for academic periods beginning in 2011 and in the first 3 months of 2011.  Payments made in 2009 for academic periods beginning in 2009 and in the first 3 months of 2010. 

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