How to Claim Student Loan Tax Credits and Deductions

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If you owe student loan debt, student loans likely take a good chunk out of your budget. But the good news is, the government gives most borrowers a little help with interest costs. While there isn’t a student loan tax credit for borrowers who are repaying student loans, there is a tax deduction for up to $2,500 in student loan interest that allows qualified borrowers to reduce taxable income.

There are also a few credits you can take to help cover costs while you’re in school. Read on to find out more about whether the student loan interest deduction or a student loan tax credit could help you.

Your options for claiming a student loan tax credit?

There are tax credits for education, but eligibility varies depending upon whether you’re currently in school and paying tuition or whether you’re out of school and already paying back student loans.

The Department of Education lists the two student loan tax credits that are available:

The American Opportunity Credit

The American Opportunity Credit (AOC) is worth up to $2,500 per student per year, but it can only be claimed for a maximum of four total tax years per student. There are specific qualifying requirements including:

  • The student must be attending school at least half-time for at least one academic term.
  • The student must not have finished the first four years of a post-secondary program prior to the end of the tax year.
  • The student must be pursuing a program that will end with a degree or other recognized credential.

Parents often claim this credit while their kids are in college. To claim the credit, parents or students should make sure they have Form 1098-T, which is provided by the school to report tuition received.

The Lifetime Learning Credit

This credit is worth up to $2,000 per year per student for tuition, books, fees and supplies for any student pursuing college or career education. Students don’t need to be enrolled for a minimum number of hours to claim the credit, and there’s no limit on how many years the credit can be claimed.

Unfortunately, if you’re already out of school, you aren’t eligible for either of these credits even if you took out student loans to pay for education.

Claiming the student loan interest deduction

If you’re already out of school, you might be eligible for a valuable tax deduction even though you don’t qualify for student loan tax credits anymore. For each year you pay your loans, you can deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest.

This deduction could save you hundreds of dollars on your tax bill. However, it’s important to realize the deduction will save you less than a credit would. Deductions reduce your taxable income, while tax credits reduce the amount you owe in taxes. For example:

  • If you owed $1,000 in taxes and receive a $500 credit, you’d subtract the credit from your taxes due. Your new tax bill would be $1,000 (taxes due) – $500 (credit) = $500. Your savings is $500.
  • If you receive a $500 deduction and you’re in the 15% tax bracket, your taxable income is reduced by $500 and you save 15% on the money you didn’t pay taxes on. Your savings is $500 (the money you’re not taxed on) * 15% (your tax bracket). Your savings is $75.

How much can the student loan tax deduction save you?

The amount you’ll save if you claim the student loan tax deduction varies depending on your tax rate and the amount of student loan interest you deduct.

The student loan tax deduction is classified as an “above-the-line” deduction. This means you don’t have to itemize your taxes in order to claim the deduction. You can directly reduce your taxable income by including the interest amount on your tax return.

In particular, this deduction reduces your adjusted gross income, thereby reducing the amount of income you’re declaring that’s subject to taxation. If you had $40,000 in income but you claim the $2,500 student loan interest deduction, you’d only have to pay taxes on $37,500 in income. Since you pay taxes on less income, you reduce the total taxes you owe.

You can get a rough idea of how much you’ll save by multiplying the amount of student loan interest you can deduct by your tax bracket. If you paid $1,000 in student loan interest and you’re in the 22% tax bracket, you’d multiply $1,000 * 22% to determine that you’d save around $220.

If you want to estimate how much you could save, use our student loan interest deduction calculator.

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Are you eligible to take the student loan tax deduction?

Whether you are eligible for the student loan interest deduction will vary depending upon your income, how you file your taxes and whether anyone claims you as a dependent.

If your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) was less than $70,000 as a single filer or less than $140,000 as joint filers in 2019, you could deduct the full $2,500. If you made between $75,000 and $85,000 (or between $140,000 and $170,000 as joint filers), you could deduct a reduced amount. Over $85,000 (or $170,000, jointly),the student loan tax deduction is no longer available.

You also have to meet other requirements. The IRS indicates you can claim the deduction if:

  • You paid interest on a qualified student loan: A qualified student loan is a loan that was taken out for you, your spouse, or any person who was your dependent at the time you took out the loan. The loan must have been taken out for educational expenses during an academic year and the interest that you are deducting must have been incurred or paid out within a reasonable time period before or after you took out the loan.
  • You were legally obligated to pay the interest that you paid. Your modified adjusted gross income was below the annual maximum at which the deduction phases out.

If you file using the married filing separately status or if someone else can claim you on their return, you won’t be eligible for this deduction.

You can also only take the student loan tax deduction when you’re paying interest on student loans that you actually used to pay for school-related expenses.

Room and board during school counts; however, if you used any of your student loans to fund personal expenses not related to education, you must reduce your deduction so you aren’t deducting interest paid on this portion of your loans.

How to claim the student loan interest deduction

To claim your student loan tax deduction, you must be the legal owner of the loan. If you’ve made payments on a loan that isn’t yours, you won’t be able to take the deduction. However, the good news is, if someone else made payments on your loan for you, like a parent, you can take the deduction anyway.

To get started, you’ll need to know how much you paid and will need to fill in the right form on your tax return.

Your school or student loan servicer should send you a form called a 1098-E, which will show how much student loan interest you paid over the year. You’ll enter this amount on your taxes to claim the deduction and reduce your taxable income.

Making the most of student loan tax credits and deductions

To make the most of your student loan tax credits and deductions, be sure to claim any tuition credits you are eligible for while still in school. Once you graduate and begin paying interest, claim your student loan deduction in any year which you are eligible.

There’s never a reason not to claim student loan tax credits that you are eligible for, as you don’t want to pay more taxes than you need while trying to cover the costs of your education.

Rebecca Safier, Stephanie Halligan and Miranda Marquit contributed to this article.

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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Splash Financial loans are available through arrangements with lending partners. Your loan application will be submitted to the lending partner and be evaluated at their sole discretion. For loans where a credit union is the lender, or a purchaser of the loan, in order to refinance your loans, you will need to become a credit union member.

The Splash Student Loan Refinance Program is not offered or endorsed by any college or university. Neither Splash Financial nor the lending partner are affiliated with or endorse any college or university listed on this website.

You should review the benefits of your federal student loan; it may offer specific benefits that a private refinance/consolidation loan may not offer. If you work in the public sector, are in the military or taking advantage of a federal department of relief program, such as income based repayment or public service forgiveness, you may not want to refinance, as these benefits do not transfer to private refinance/consolidation loans.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of August 11, 2020.

Fixed APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rate options range from 2.88% (without autopay) to 7.27% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.88% per year to 5.80% per year for a 5-year term, 3.30% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term, 3.45% to 5.08% for a 8-year term, 3.69% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term, 4.18% per year to 5.11% per year for a 12-year term, 3.94% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.51% per year to 7.27% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. The fixed interest rate will apply until the loan is paid in full (whether before or after default, and whether before or after the scheduled maturity date of the loan).
The Rate will not change during the term. Repayment examples are for illustrative purposes only. The following Fixed Rate examples are based on a $10,000 loan amount using the lowest APR for each application term listed above. All student loan rates used in calculating the examples are shown without the autopay discount (.25%). There are no application or origination fees, and no prepayment penalties. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 2.88% per year for a 5-year term would be $179.15. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 3.30% for a 7-year term would be $133.49. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 3.45% for a 8-year term would be $119.35. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 3.69% for a 10-year term would be $99.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 4.18% for a 12-year term would be $88.43. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 3.94% for a 15-year term would be $73.67. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 4.51% for a 20-year term would be from $63.32.

Variable APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Variable rate options range from 1.98% (with autopay) to 6.90% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Our lowest rate option is shown with a 0.25% autopay discount. Our highest rate option does not include an autopay discount. The variable rates are based on the Variable rate index, is based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of June 26, 2020, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.18%. The interest rate on a variable rate loan is comprised of an index and margin added together. The margin is a fixed amount (disclosed at the time of your loan application) added each month to the index to determine the next month’s variable rate. Variable rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.18% per year to 6.30% per year for a 5-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.35% per year for a 7-year term, 2.18% per year to 3.66% per year for a 8-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term, 2.41% per year to 4.30% per year for a 12-year term, 3.18% per year to 6.65% per year for a 15-year term, 4.54% per year to 6.90% per year for a 20-year term, or 4.43% per year to 7.02% for a 25-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate may be between 9.00% and 16.00%, depending on loan term. The floor rate may be between 0.54% and 4.21%, depending on loan term. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.

Variable APRs and amounts subject to increase or decrease. Variable rates are indexed to the one-month LIBOR rate. The following Variable Rate examples are based on a $10,000 loan amount. Repayment examples are for illustrative purposes only. All student loan rates below are shown without the autopay discount (.25%). There are no application or origination fees, and no prepayment penalties. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 2.18% per year for a 5-year term would be $176.07. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 4.00% for a 7-year term would be $136.69. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 2.18% for a 8-year term would be $113.61. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 4.25% for a 10-year term would be $102.44. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 2.41% for a 12-year term would be $80.04. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 3.18% for a 15-year term would be $69.93. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 4.54% for a 20-year term would be from $63.48. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan with an APR of 4.43% for a 25-year term would be from $55.19.

 


2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 1.99% APR to 6.24% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 1.99% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 3.06% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of August 10, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.18% effective July 10, 2020.

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.