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How many college credit hours do I need to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit?

To claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit, you must be enrolled for at least one academic period that begins in the tax year. You also must be:

  • Enrolled at least part time.
  • Enrolled in a post-secondary undergraduate program leading to one of these:
    • Degree
    • Certificate
    • Other recognized educational credential

The school decides what qualifies as full-time or half-time enrollment. However, full-time status at most educational institutions is 12 credit hours in one semester. So, enrolling in six credit hours usually qualifies as half-time status.

The Lifetime Learning Credit is available to students who don’t qualify for the American Opportunity Credit. This can include students who are enrolled for college credit:

  • Enrolled less than half-time
  • Have already completed four years of post-secondary education

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Calculators

So how much will you get (or owe) this year? That’s the million-dollar question. We happen to have three very useful calculators to help you estimate your refund or balance due.

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