WSU students have been able to save thousands of dollars on their out-of-pocket expenses on course materials over the last three years, thanks to the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
So far the tax credit has benefited 7-9 million families, said Richard Hershman, vice president of government relations for the National Association of College Stores (NACS). But the credit is set to expire at the end of 2012.
The tax credit offers undergraduates up to $10,000 in savings on their course books and supplies for their first four years of post-secondary education. Expenses paid by scholarships and grants do not qualify for the credit.
Students and their families can receive up to $2,500 each year with a possible tax refund of $1,000 in addition, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury website.
The credit replaced the Hope Scholarship Credit in 2009, which allowed eligibility for two years. The current credit enables students to take advantage of the savings for all four years of college, said Tristan Hanon, the ASWSU director of legislative affairs. But if Congress does not make the credit permanent, the Hope Scholarship Credit will go back into effect.
The credit is especially important for juniors and seniors to know they can still benefit from the program, Hanon said.
The NACS is a major supporter of the credit, Hershman said. The group has made brochures, posters and a website to inform students about the credit and the benefits it offers families.
The most important thing is for students to keep records of their expenses on course materials, Hershman said. Students should hold onto their receipts, he said.
The association has more than 3,100 member stores, Hershman said, and some will print second receipts for students to save for their records. However, The Bookie is not a member.
David A. Tucker II, a spokesman for the IRS, said electronic filing determines if students and their families qualify for the credit.
The IRS recommends students use the free filing software available on its website, Tucker said. The software is intended for people who make less than $53,000 a year, and it is secure, fast and the quickest way to receive a direct deposit, he said.