Qualified expenses (QHEE’s) are expenses that are eligible for some form of tax benefit such as the AOTC or a tax- and penalty-free distribution from a 529 account. Sounds simple, right? Let the fine print begin! Not all “qualified expenses” qualify for all purposes. And of course the most important rule of claiming education tax benefits: You can’t double-dip. That means that if you use 529 plan funds to pay an expense, you cannot also claim a tax credit for that expense. Continue reading What’s a Qualified Expense?
With the change to prior-prior tax year reporting on the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE, it seems that keeping track of what data dates pertain to what is becoming increasingly complicated. This table summarizes the relevant years or dates for each school year.
|FAFSA/ PROFILE Income Year||2016||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022|
|Assets As Of October*||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022||2023|
|AOTC Tax Year**||2018, 2019||2019, 2020||2020, 2021||2021, 2022||2022, 2023||2023, 2024||2024, 2025|
* Assets are as of the filing date, which may be as early as October or into the following year depending on the school’s filing date.
** Remember that the AOTC can only be claimed for four tax years, so families should decide whether the fall of freshman year is better than spring of senior year for claiming. With the income limit of $160,000 (married filing joint) or $80,000 (single), some families might not be eligible every year.
Parents may find that different strategies are needed during different years. For example, a family with a student beginning college in fall of 2020 might reduce pre-tax retirement contributions this year (to increase taxes, which are deducted from income on the FAFSA and therefore reduce EFC) and then maximize contributions beginning in 2021 to reduce AGI for AOTC claiming purposes.
Many parents and grandparents purchase education savings bonds– series EE or series I bonds– to pay for college. These bonds are tax-free within some limits, and it’s not uncommon for families to find out too late that they’ve landed outside the limits. Continue reading Series EE and I Bonds
If you have a college student, you (or they) probably received a form 1098-T. Schools are required to send this to any student who paid qualified higher education expenses. Here’s what you need to know about your 1098-T: Continue reading What’s a 1098-T?
The recent tax bill that went into effect this year included a change allowing parents to use up to $10,000 annually from a 529 account to pay for private high school expenses. Parents considering taking advantage of this provision should weigh another consideration besides whether or not they have saved enough in their 529 to pay for high school in addition to college: Does your state offer the same benefit? Continue reading 529s and Private High School Tuition
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to save (or save more) for college? If so, you may be increasing the odds that your student will attend and graduate. Research shows that, across income levels, students who have savings designated for college are more likely to attend and graduate. Overall, the study showed that children who were “expected” to Continue reading College Savings and Education Outcomes
The final version of the tax bill has some changes to the education-related items that caused a bit of an uproar in previous versions. Here is a quick summary: Continue reading College and the Tax Bill
Both versions of the tax bill– House and Senate– include changes to education tax benefits. One area of both change and confusion is college savings plans. The bills aim to consolidate some of the education plans: loans, tax credits and tax-preferred savings accounts. Continue reading College Savings Plans in the Tax Bill
For divorced parents, figuring out who is the custodial parent for FAFSA filing purposes can be a little confusing. Actually, the rules are pretty simple: the custodial parent is the one with whom the student spends the most time. That’s not necessarily the parent named custodial parent in the divorce decree, or the one claiming the student on their tax return. Continue reading FAFSA Custodial Parent