Program Description

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is a tax credit to help pay for education expenses paid for the first four years of education completed after high school. You can get a maximum annual credit of $2,500 per eligible student and 40% or $1,000 could be refunded if you owe no tax. This credit is subject to income limitations.

General Program Requirements

To be eligible for AOTC, the student must:

  • Be you, your spouse or your dependent that you listed on your tax return
  • Be pursuing a degree or other recognized education credential
  • Have qualified education expenses at an eligible educational institution
  • Be enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period* beginning in the tax year
  • Not have finished the first four years of higher education at the beginning of the tax year
  • Not have claimed the AOTC or the former Hope credit for more than four tax years
  • Not have a felony drug conviction at the end of the tax year

Your Next Steps

The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this program.

Application Process

To claim AOTC, you must file a federal tax return, complete the Form 8863 and attach the completed form to your Form 1040 or Form 1040A.

Use the information on the Form 1098-T Tuition Statement, received from the educational institution the student attended. The form includes the institution’s federal identification number, the student’s taxpayer identification number, payments received, amounts billed or refunds made for tuition and related expenses, scholarships administered by the institution, and the student’s enrollment and graduate status.

Program Contact Information

For more information, please visit the American Opportunity Tax Credit page.

If you don't qualify for the AOTC, see if you qualify for another education benefit on the Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center page.

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