Advanced Placement (AP) Courses

Today TaxMama hears from Kevin in the TaxQuips Forum, with an interesting problem. “Many high school students are taking Advance Placement (AP) courses through an eligible educational institution as a means to earn college credits at an economical price. I was trying to find out if the costs of these courses are deductible as Tuition and Fees or some other way. Pub 970 defines an eligible student as ‘must have either a high school diploma or a GED credential’ so I’m not confident this is possible; but this is the best place to ask.”

 Hi Kevin,

 Hmmm…that’s a very good question. First of all, the student cannot take the deduction, regardless. Only the parent may.

You cannot take the tuition and fees deduction on your income tax return if your filing status is married filing separately, or if you may be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return.

Let’s see, there is no restriction about completing high school or a GED for the American Opportunity Credit (AOC). See who cannot claim the credit. Although, if only one or two classes are being taken, that might be a waste of the credit.

There is no restriction for the Lifetime Learning Credit and you can use this year after year. (It has the same exceptions as the AOC.)

Interesting, ONLY the tuition and fees deduction has that restriction. I doubt an auditor would catch that, if you were audited. But that does make it permissible.  

The one thing you might consider doing is – have the student take the GED. I am sure that AP student could pass it blindfolded with one hand tied behind his/her back. And then….voila! They qualify for the Tuition and Fees deduction.

Of course, you’re probably better off with the Lifetime Credit. That directly reduces your taxes, rather than your taxable income. 

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about charitable contributions and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At

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3 thoughts on “Advanced Placement (AP) Courses

  1. Mary Partridge says:

    I don’t see how the AP classes qualify or the dual status courses qualify for credits. To be an eligible student, one must be enrolled at least half time in a degree program for the Am. Opportunity Credit or the Hope Credit. A high school student is not enrolled in a upper degree granting school when taking one or two AP classes. Lifetime Credit–maybe. Please, if you think I’m incorrect in my thinking, please chime in. I have numerous clients with students who take AP credits and receive high school and freshman college credit for the classes.

  2. Susan Jones says:

    If a student who is enrolled in a public high school takes the GED exam, they may be precluded from completing their studies in the high school and they may find applying for college requires new jumping through a different set of admission “hoops”. Further, before taking the GED to qualify for tax deductions, the student should first check local education rules to determine if they may attend a community college course as a dual-enrolled student tuition and fee free (though they may have to purchase their own books); by doing so, the student earns both college and high school credit for the same course.

  3. Susan Holtgrefe says:

    Many students actually take college classes during high school through dual enrollment programs where the smart student take one class and it counts for both high school and college credit. This discounted college credit beats anything that Uncle Sam could ever offer, however, college classes through an eligible educational institution generally should at least qualify for the lifetime learning credit. I question whether AP classes would qualify. Many people call dual enrollment classes AP. AP is only the test that is offered by the company College Board (same company that owns the SAT) that shows college level competency in a subject. It is up to each college to decide if they will accept the AP results and what type of credit to offer. You will not know what credit you will receive and the costs that the school will charge until you are accepted at the school you ultimately attend. Even with out a tax benefit it is still a great way to avoid freshmen English!

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