How to Get a Big Tax Refund for Students Using Hope Credit

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You'll be delighted at the funds available through the Hope education credit.
You'll be delighted at the funds available through the Hope education credit. (Image: Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

If you're a college student, you may be able to qualify for the Hope Credit, which will enable you to reduce your tax bill, thus possibly leading to a larger-than-expected refund. If you are a qualifying student attending a qualified institution and meet the other criteria, then your tuition and all related educational expenses in the first two years of college are eligible for the credit, meaning you may receive thousands simply for taking time to provide additional information.

Things You'll Need

  • Form 8863
  • Calculator
  • Form 1040A or 1040

Download and print Form 8863, Education Credits, from the Internal Revenue Service, IRS, website (see Resources). You will also need to have your expense receipts for for the semesters you attended in that tax year.

Read through the tax form and instructions to ensure you are eligible to take advantage of this tax credit before completing the form.

Complete all three parts of Form 8863. The first part is for the "Hope Credit" and will request personal information such as name and Social Security number. Next, you will want to enter "Qualified Expenses," then finish completing columns C through F, calculating the amounts as shown.

Skip down to part three, If you completed part one. You cannot take the "Lifetime Learning Credit" in the same tax year, if you are taking advantage of the "Hope Credit."

Get a calculator to do part three along with your amounts from part one and your Form 1040 or 1040A so you can do part three. Use your amounts from part one and fill in the requested information along with the amounts from your Form 1040.

Take your amount from line 17 of part three and enter this on your Form 1040 or 1040A. If you are using 1040, you will enter this amount on line 49; if you are using 1040A you will enter this amount on line 31. Complete your 1040 to figure out the amount of your tax refund.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be sure to read the instructions before filling out the form.
  • Students in Midwestern disaster areas read the special rules on page 3 of instructions.
  • You cannot take the Hope credit and the lifetime learning credit for the same student in the same year.

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