Are college expenses like room and board tax deductible?

June 25, 2014 by Dave Du Val, EA
stacked books, diploma, and graduation hat

Hey Dave,

We adopted our grandson three years ago - he is now a freshman in high school. When he goes to college, will his tuition be tax deductible? Any other college expenses, like room and board?




You are very smart to start planning now!  Your grandson’s eligible expenses may qualify you for an education credit or deduction if you meet all of the requirements. The one that usually provides the biggest tax break is the American Opportunity Credit (AOC). Qualified expenses for the American Opportunity Credit include tuition at an eligible institution, books and required supplies, but not room and board, medical expenses, insurance, etc. There are currently income limits of $180,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, and $90,000 for those using the single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) statuses.

An eligible educational institution is a school offering higher education beyond high school. It is any college, university, vocational school, or other post-secondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program run by the U.S. Department of Education. This includes virtually all accredited public, nonprofit and privately-owned–for-profit post-secondary institutions. Here’s a link to help you determine if you qualify for the AOC.

There are other education credits and deductions, each with its own rules. To determine which one would be most beneficial for you, we would recommend that you review IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.


Deductibly Yours,




David E. Du Val, EA
Chief Compliance Officer for TRI Holdco


Dave Du Val, EA, is Chief Compliance Officer for TRI Holdco. Inc., the parent company of TaxAudit, and Centenal Tax Group. A nationally recognized speaker and educator, Dave is well known for his high energy and dynamic presentation style. He is a frequent and popular guest speaker for the California Society of Tax Consultants, the California Society of Enrolled Agents and the National Association of Tax Professionals. Dave frequently contributes tax tips and information to news publications, including US News and World Report, USA Today, and CPA Practice Advisor. Dave is an Enrolled Agent who has prepared thousands of returns during his career and has trained and mentored hundreds of tax professionals. He is a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Association of Enrolled Agents and the California Society of Enrolled Agents. Dave also holds a Master of Arts in Education and has been educating people since 1972. 


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