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Subject:  Re: HOPE Scholarship Credit--2 or 3 tax years? Date:  2/5/1999  12:18 PM
Author:  TMFTaxes Number:  9549 of 127642

[[What about a "professional student" like me, who is a sophomore (credit-wise)
but I'm past my second year of college. I've (obviously) never gotten the credit
before... can I get it this year? In other words, I know you can't get the credit for
more than two years, but do they have to be your *first* two years?]]

Yup...the law is very clear on this must be your first two years of education. But not necessarily in the first two calendar years. I think that there may be some confusion on this point.

You can read more about these issues in IRS Publication 970.

Let me give you an excerpt of Pub 970:

"For expenses paid after December 31, 1997, for academic periods beginning after that date, you may be able to claim a Hope credit of up to $1,500 for the qualified tuition and related expenses paid for each eligible student. This credit may be claimed for only two taxable years for each eligible student.

Eligible student for the Hope credit. You can claim a Hope credit only for an eligible student who meets all of the following requirements.

1) Has not completed the first two years of postsecondary education (generally, the freshman or sophomore years of college).

2) Is enrolled in a program that leads to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential.

3) Is taking at least one-half of the normal full-time work load for his or her course of study for at least one academic period beginning during the calendar year.
4) Is free of any felony conviction for possessing or distributing a controlled substance.

Amount of credit. The amount of the Hope credit is 100% of the first $1,000 plus 50% of the next $1,000 you pay for each eligible student's qualified tuition and related expenses. The maximum amount of Hope credit you can claim in 1998 is $1,500 times the number of eligible students. This means that you can claim the full $1,500 for each eligible student for whom you pay at least $2,000 for qualified expenses. However, the credit may be reduced based on your modified adjusted gross income. "

So if you are still in your first or second year of education, and meet the "at least half time" requirement, the credit could be yours...regardless of when you begain your higher education.

Read IRS Pub 970. It'll answer your questions and provide you with examples. Check it out.

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