Do I qualify for AOC?


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?



  • rachels
    rachels FreeTaxUSA Agent

    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

    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."

    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: