Do I qualify for AOC?

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My son signed up for college as a full time student. I paid over $7000 and he lasted a month. He hated the school. He dropped out and signed up for Community college with no aid where he took 9 credits. Can he still be claimed as a full time student? Can I declare what I paid for him even though he ended up dropping out?

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  • rachels
    rachels FreeTaxUSA Agent
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    Hi lauredau,

    For the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the IRS states that the student must:

    • Be pursuing a degree or other recognized education credential
    • Be enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period* beginning in the tax year
    • Not have finished the first four years of higher education at the beginning of the tax year
    • Not have claimed the AOTC or the former Hope credit for more than four tax years
    • Not have a felony drug conviction at the end of the tax year

    https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/aotc

    To be enrolled at least half time for one academic period, Publication 970 states that the student needs to have "carried at least one-half the normal full-time workload for his or her course of study. The standard for what is half of the normal full-time workload is determined by each eligible educational institution."

    The "full-time student" question for the purposes of claiming your son as a dependent is different. For that, the IRS says:

    "A full-time student is a student who is enrolled for the number of hours or courses that the school considers to be full-time attendance.

    To qualify as a student, the person must be, during some part of each of any five calendar months of the year:

    1. A full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study, and a regularly enrolled student body at the school, or
    2. A student taking a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school described in (1), or by a state, county, or local government agency.

    The five calendar months do not have to be consecutive."

    https://apps.irs.gov/app/IPAR/resources/help/ftstud.html

    Please note that, regardless of eligibility, you will not be able to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit for your son if you cannot claim him as a dependent on your tax return. You can double-check if you can claim your son by using the IRS's interactive tax tool: https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/whom-may-i-claim-as-a-dependent