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Greg Lindberg

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The 3 Tax Breaks You Can’t Afford to Miss if You’re a College Student

Posted by Greg Lindberg on Feb 21, 2018 10:16:09 AM

Tax season is officially underway at the Internal Revenue Service. This means income tax returns that account for your earnings in 2017 are due by Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

If you’re one of the millions of college students pursuing a degree to launch or advance your career, you may be eligible to claim a few tax benefits that can help you reduce your bill to Uncle Sam and keep more of your money.

Let’s explore three of these key IRS tax breaks for education.

1. American Opportunity Tax Credit

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is an IRS benefit available to college students themselves, those who claim students as dependents on their income tax returns, or even spouses of students.

This credit is Worth up to $2,500 per year for each eligible student, and it can only be claimed for a student’s first four years of attending either a postsecondary college or university or a vocational school. Eligible students must be seeking a formal college degree or other recognized education-related credential.

Keep in mind that the AOTC is partially refundable, which means you can claim up to $1,000 of the credit, even if you do not owe any tax.

Those who claim this credit cannot earn more than $80,000 as single filers or $160,000 for couples who file joint tax returns. The credit is phased out when modified adjusted gross income amounts reach these levels.

2. Lifetime Learning Credit

The Lifetime Learning Credit is worth up to $2,000 per tax return, per year. This is regardless of the number of students who qualify for it. So, if two parents have two or three dependents in college, they can only receive up to this $2,000 maximum value in total, not $2,000 per student.


The nice perk of the Lifetime Learning Credit is that it is available for all years in which a student is enrolled in a postsecondary educational institution, unlike the four-year limit to the AOTC. It also applies to expenses related to courses one takes to learn or improve upone skills within a particular trade.

Modified adjusted gross income limits for this credit are $65,000 for individual filers and $130,000 for joint filers.

Important notes about the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit:

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Topics: American Opportunity Tax Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, Tuition and fees deduction

18 Money Moves First-Time College Students Should Make in 2018

Posted by Greg Lindberg on Jan 8, 2018 12:23:34 PM

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Topics: financial aid, First-time college students, Educatoin tax benefits

9 Money-Saving Tips for College Students This Summer

Posted by Greg Lindberg on Jun 14, 2017 1:45:52 PM

“Cha-ching” is one of the most familiar sounds we hear every day. That’s because we all have so many expenses in our lives, and saving money can be quite a challenge at times. This is especially true for financially-strapped college students who are doing their best to tread water while working toward a degree.

So, let’s take a look at what college students can do this summer – and year-round – to hang on to every last penny.

1. Rent your textbooks.

Taking summer classes to lighten the load in the fall? Instead of purchasing textbooks that you’ll only be using for a few months per course, rent them. Many on-campus and off-campus bookstores rent textbooks for certain courses, along with several online textbook rental sites.

It’s also worth trying to sell or trade in any recently used textbooks you no longer need.

Check out this textbook rental guide for more information.

2. Spend your money wisely on food.

Having dinner out every night might be tasty, but it’s expensive. So, budget yourself this summer and as much as possible on an ongoing basis when it comes to food. Find deals, coupons, and other discounts for restaurants. Only buy groceries you’ll actually consume.

If you get a college meal plan on campus, try getting one of the most affordable ones. Meal plans can take a massive bite out of any budget.

3. Find roommates if you live off campus.

Students who live on campus are typically paired up with roommates in on-campus residence halls. But if you reside off campus in an apartment or house, consider finding roommates who can help you significantly reduce your rent.

The summer is the perfect time of year to find roommates with whom you can live during the fall and spring semesters.

4. Find fun things to do at places that offer student discounts.

That cruise to Cancun or road trip to Panama City could be out of your budget. But if you find cool things to do around town or even within a few hours of where you live, you might be pleasantly surprised to find attractions that offer student discounts. Students can often receive up to 50% off at certain locations, so always remember to have your student ID handy.

Plus, many college and university campuses offer free or inexpensive events right on campus, such as movie nights, concerts, festivals, speakers, and workshops. Don’t forget to take advantage of those activities as well.

5. Dig through your stuff to find items to sell.

If you’re a younger college student, you might not be in possession of too many belongings. However, if there are clothes, electronics, textbooks, or other items piling up in the corner that you just don’t use, consider selling them.

Try using Craigslist, Poshmark, thrift stores, and other outlets to make a little extra money that you can put away for savings.

6. Only buy the course supplies you actually need.

If you’re taking summer classes, only plunk down money on specific course supplies and materials you’ll actually be using. Professors typically include the required supplies for a course within the syllabus, which you should be able to get your hands on before the course begins.

7. Open a savings account.

With a little more time over the summer, head on down to your local bank of choice and open a savings account for yourself. This should be a separate account from any checking accounts you already have. It’s never to early – or late – to start saving, and setting aside some money no matter what age you are can only help you enjoy a more stable financial future.

Credit unions are often a good financial institution for college students to start with.

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Topics: money saving tips, financial aid

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