The Cutting Edge: Uncle Sam Gives Back to Students

Looks like Uncle Sam has a little treat for cash-strapped college students. A recent change in the tax code means the cost of textbooks and course materials is eligible for a tax credit — swoon!

The American Opportunity Tax Credit allows up to a $2,500 for course materials, tuition, and fees incurred in 2009 and 2010–as long as they were not covered by scholarships or grants. The new credit expands the existing Hope Credit for the 2009 and 2010 tax years. It now includes course materials, which can be claimed for four years of secondary education as opposed to the original two years.

The full credit is available to people with a modified adjusted gross income of $80,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the amount is $160,000 or less. The modification is expected to help an additional 4 million students attend college.

Got questions about the tax credit? The National Association of College Stores (NACS) launched a Website with the IRS,, to answer your questions.

I must admit – while the expansion of the tax credit is not enough to offset the drastic increase in college tuition and fees, which can average anywhere from $172 to $1,096 according to, it does come as a bit of help.

Students, save your receipts!

Renita Burns is a staff writer at