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Transcript: Tax breaks for students

Anchor Intro: Now that college students have returned to campus and those tuition checks have been cashed, will you be getting any tax savings? Odds are you will. Bankrate.com takes a trip to campus to see how smart tomorrow's grads are when it comes to deducting their expenses.

Voice over 1: You don't have to write too many tuition checks to know that college costs a bundle. But at least some of those expenses are deductible, and effectively reduces the cost.

Voice over 2: But does today's students even know what tax breaks they're entitled to? We're going to find out with a simple impromptu quiz. And we'll start with something really easy: Are college expenses even deductible at all?

MOS: "I'm not sure. Maybe."

Voice over 3: Tuition and fees are deductible, up to $4,000. That's just tuition, registration and fees, not books, room and board or other stuff. Now, what are the Hope and Lifetime Learning credits?

MOS: "I do not know. I have not one clue what those are."

Voice over 4: The Hope Credit is a tax credit of up to $1,800 on the first $2,400 of tuition and fees. But you only get it during the first two years of college, and you have to be considered at least a half-time student.

Voice over 5: The Lifetime Learning credit is a credit for 20 percent of qualifying expenses up to $2,000. Unlike the Hope credit, you don't have to be considered half time, and you can take it in any year.

Voice over 6: Now, that was pretty complicated stuff, so let's end with something both simple and important. Which is better: a tax deduction or a tax credit?

MOS: "A tax deduction?"

Voice over 7: A tax deduction reduces the income you're taxed on. A credit reduces the tax you owe. So a credit is normally better.

Standup: So if you're the one writing the checks for that higher education, when tax time rolls around, better study! For Bankrate.com, I'm Kristin Arnold.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: Dec. 31, 2008
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