What are qualified college tuition expenses?

A qualified college tuition expense is the tuition required for the enrollment or attendance of the eligible student at an institution of higher education. It does not matter whether the expenses were paid by cash, check, credit card, or with borrowed funds. In addition, the eligible student does not have to be enrolled in a degree program or attend full time for the expenses to qualify. However, only undergraduate enrollment or attendance qualifies. Tuition payments required for enrollment or attendance in a course of study leading to the granting of a post baccalaureate or other graduate degrees do not qualify.

Payments on behalf of an eligible student from a qualified state tuition program (such as New York's 529 College Savings Program) are considered qualified college tuition expenses. If you claim the student as a dependent, these payments are treated as paid by you. Generally, qualified college tuition expenses paid on behalf of an eligible student by someone other than the student (such as a relative) are treated as paid by the student. However, if the eligible student is claimed as a dependent on another person's New York State income tax return, only the person who claims the student as a dependent for income tax purposes may claim the credit or deduction for college tuition expenses that were paid (or treated as paid) by the student. This is the case even if the expenses were paid from the student's earnings, gifts, inheritances, or savings

Qualified tuition expenses do not include:

  • Tuition paid through the receipt of scholarships or financial aid (For this purpose, financial aid does not include student loans, other loans, and grants that must be repaid either before or after the student ceases attending school.)
  • Amounts paid for room and board, insurance, medical expenses (including student health fees), transportation, or other similar personal, living, or family expenses
  • Fees for course-related books, supplies, equipment, and nonacademic activities, even if the fees are required to be paid as a condition of enrollment or attendance

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