Tax Deductions That Most College Students Overlook

It’s that time of year again! Pretty soon, you’ll be getting your W2’s from whichever companies you work for and you’ll have to take a trip to H&R Block, or wherever, to get your 1040-EZ form filed. Or you could just do it online, but having a tax preparer walk you though everything can be very valuable to first-time filers.

As a college student, filing taxes is actually very easy. By law, your parents are required to claim you as a dependent (unless if you’re 24 or married) and you don’t own any property, so there’s a lot less that you have to manage. But as a college student, there’s also a lot of tax write-off opportunities out there that most overlook.

  • Tuition and Fees Deductions. You’re eligible for this if you paid out of pocket for education expenses (so tuition scholarships don’t count) and your adjusted gross income is less that $80,000 ($160,000 if married and filing jointly).
  • Student Loan Interest Deductions. A deduction on accrued interest on student loans, which can be claimed if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than $75,000 or $150,000 if married and filing jointly (as opposed to filing separately).
  • Qualified Student Loans. A qualified student loan can be better described by what’s NOT qualified. What’s NOT qualified is a loan taken by a related person (whom isn’t married to you or not a dependent) or a qualified employer plan.
  • Qualified Education Expenses. This would include tuition and fees, textbooks, supplies and equipment, room and board, and other out-of-pocket expenses, such as transportation and the sort.
  • Work-Related Education. First of all, this requires that you be working. Secondly, it must be required by law or by your employer to maintain employment.
  • Education to Maintain or Improve Skills. In some cases, if the education isn’t required to maintain employment, but helps maintain or improve your skills in the workforce, it may also qualify as a work-related education expense.

So how do you file all of this? You’ll need two things: Schedule A (Form 1040) and Form 8917, which will then need to be attached to the standard 1040 form. Now the tricky part is trying to figure out how much you can write off. You can either try doing this yourself, look up a how-to guide online, or if all else fails, hire an accountant…I’m kidding. But really, if you’re having problems, your time may be best spent paying someone to prepare your taxes for you; that way, you’ll be able to get more on your return.