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Lifetime Learning Tax Credit

Mark Kantrowitz

May 18, 2009

Limitations and Eligibility Restrictions

Unlike the Hope Scholarship, the Lifetime Learning tax credit may be claimed for an unlimited number of years.

Coordination Restrictions

The Lifetime Learning tax credit can be used in conjunction with other tax benefits, provided that different education expenses form the basis for each benefit.

You cannot use the Lifetime Learning with the Hope Scholarship tax credit for the same student in the same year, but you can use them for different students’ educational expenses in the same year.

In most cases the Hope Scholarship will yield a greater financial benefit than the Lifetime Learning tax credit. The Hope Scholarship is limited per student, while the Lifetime Learning tax credit is limited per taxpayer. The Lifetime Learning tax credit also offers a lower percentage of qualified expenses than the Hope Scholarship. The Lifetime Learning tax credit will mostly be useful for graduate and professional students who are ineligible for the Hope Scholarship of the restriction to the first few years of postsecondary education.

You cannot use the Lifetime learning tax credit and the Tuition & Fees Deduction for the same student in the same year.

Income Phaseouts

The Lifetime Learning tax credit has an income phaseout for incomes from $50,000 to $60,000 (single filers) and $100,000 to $120,000 (married filing jointly). (These are the 2009 phaseouts. The phaseouts are indexed for inflation.)

Taxpayers who are married cannot claim the tax credit if they are filing separate returns.

This article originally appeared on FinAid.org.


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