skip navigation
Search Help
Navigation Help

Tax Map Index
ABCDEFGHI
JKLMNOPQR
STUVWXYZ#

Tax Reform
Tax Topic Index

International
Tax Topic Index

Affordable Care Act
Tax Topic Index

Exempt Organization
Tax Topic Index

FAQs
Forms
Publications
Tax Topics
Worksheets

Comments
About Tax Map

IRS.gov Website
Publication 970
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000178139

Chapter 3
Lifetime Learning Credit(p22)

For Use in Tax Year 2017

What’s New(p22)

For Use in Tax Year 2017
rule
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#TXMRda0a5826
For 2017, the amount of your lifetime learning credit is gradually reduced (phased out) if your MAGI is between $56,000 and $66,000 ($112,000 and $132,000 if you file a joint return). You can't claim the credit if your MAGI is $66,000 or more ($132,000 or more if you file a joint return). For more information, see Figuring the Credit.

Reminders(p22)

For Use in Tax Year 2017
rule
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#TXMRb3c48e81
Form 1098-T requirement.(p22)
To be eligible to claim the lifetime learning credit, the law requires a taxpayer (or a dependent) to have received Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, from an eligible educational institution.
However, for tax year 2017, a taxpayer may claim the credit if the student doesn't receive a Form 1098-T because the student's educational institution isn't required to send a Form 1098-T to the student under existing rules (for example, if the student is a nonresident alien, has qualified education expenses paid entirely with scholarships, has qualified education expenses paid under a formal billing arrangement, or is enrolled in courses for which no academic credit is awarded).
If a student's educational institution isn't required to provide a Form 1098-T to the student, a taxpayer may claim the credit without a Form 1098-T if the taxpayer otherwise qualifies, can demonstrate that the taxpayer (or a dependent) was enrolled at an eligible educational institution, and can substantiate the payment of qualified tuition and related expenses.

taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000273662Introduction

For 2017, there are two tax credits available to help you offset the costs of higher education by reducing the amount of your income tax. They are the American opportunity credit and the lifetime learning credit. This chapter discusses the lifetime learning credit. The American opportunity credit is discussed in chapter 2.
This chapter explains:
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000178146

What is the tax benefit of the lifetime learning credit?(p22)

For Use in Tax Year 2017
rule
For the tax year, you may be able to claim a lifetime learning credit of up to $2,000 for qualified education expenses paid for all eligible students. There is no limit on the number of years the lifetime learning credit can be claimed for each student.
A tax credit reduces the amount of income tax you may have to pay. Unlike a deduction, which reduces the amount of income subject to tax, a credit directly reduces the tax itself. The lifetime learning credit is a nonrefundable credit. This means that it can reduce your tax to zero, but if the credit is more than your tax the excess won't be refunded to you.
Your allowable lifetime learning credit may be limited by the amount of your income and the amount of your tax.
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000178149

Can you claim more than one education credit this year? (p22)

For Use in Tax Year 2017
rule
For each student, you can elect for any year only one of the credits. For example, if you elect to claim the lifetime learning credit for a child on your 2017 tax return, you can't, for that same child, also claim the American opportunity credit for 2017.
If you are eligible to claim the lifetime learning credit and you are also eligible to claim the American opportunity credit for the same student in the same year, you can choose to claim either credit, but not both.
Deposit
If you claim the American opportunity credit for any student, you can choose between using that student's adjusted qualified education expenses for the American opportunity credit or the lifetime learning credit. If you have the choice, the American opportunity credit will always be greater than the lifetime learning credit.
If you pay qualified education expenses for more than one student in the same year, you can choose to claim certain credits on a per-student, per-year basis. This means that, for example, you can claim the American opportunity credit for one student and the lifetime learning credit for another student in the same year.
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000178150

Differences between the American opportunity and lifetime learning credits.(p23)

For Use in Tax Year 2017
rule
There are several differences between these two credits. For example, you can claim the American opportunity credit for the same student for no more than 4 tax years, but any year in which the Hope scholarship credit was claimed counts toward the 4 years. However, there is no limit on the number of years for which you can claim a lifetime learning credit based on the same student's expenses. The differences between these credits are shown in Appendix B near the end of this publication.
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000220423

Overview of the lifetime learning credit for 2017.(p23)

For Use in Tax Year 2017
rule
See Table 3-1 for the basics of the credit. The details are discussed in this chapter.
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000178153

Can You Claim the Credit?(p23)

For Use in Tax Year 2017
rule
The following rules will help you determine if you are eligible to claim the lifetime learning credit on your tax return.
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000178154

Who Can Claim the Credit?(p23)

For Use in Tax Year 2017
rule
Generally, you can claim the lifetime learning credit if all three of the following requirements are met.
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000255428

Table 3-1.   Overview of the Lifetime Learning Credit for 2017

Maximum credit Up to $2,000 credit per return
Limit on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) $132,000 if married filling jointly;
$66,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)
Refundable or nonrefundable Nonrefundable—credit limited to the amount of tax you must pay on your taxable income
Number of years of postsecondary education Available for all years of postsecondary education and for courses to acquire or improve job skills
Number of tax years credit available Available for an unlimited number of tax years
Type of program required Student doesn't need to be pursuing a program leading to a degree or other recognized education credential
Number of courses Available for one or more courses
Felony drug conviction Felony drug convictions don't make the student ineligible
Qualified expenses Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance (including amounts required to be paid to the institution for course-related books, supplies, and equipment)
Payments for academic periods Payments made in 2017 for academic periods beginning in 2017 or beginning in the first 3 months of 2018
Note.Qualified education expenses paid by a dependent for whom you claim an exemption, or by a third party for that dependent, are considered paid by you.
"Qualified education expenses" are defined later under Qualified Education Expenses. "Eligible students" are defined later under Who Is an Eligible Student. A dependent for whom you claim an exemption is defined later under Who Can Claim a Dependent's Expenses.
You may find Figure 3-1 helpful in determining if you can claim a lifetime learning credit on your tax return.
taxmap/pubs/p970-009.htm#en_us_publink1000178159

Who Can't Claim the Credit? (p23)

For Use in Tax Year 2017
rule
You can't claim the lifetime learning credit for 2017 if any of the following apply.