Taxpayers may be eligible to claim a nonrefundable Hope Scholarship Credit against their federal income taxes. The Hope Scholarship Credit may be claimed for the qualified tuition and related expenses of eachstudent in the taxpayer’s family (i.e., the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or an eligible dependent) who is enrolled at least half-time in one of the first two years of postsecondary education and who is enrolled in a program leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential. The amount that may be claimed as a credit is generally equal to: (1) 100 percent of the first $1,000 of the taxpayer’s out-of-pocket expenses for each student’s qualified tuition and related expenses, plus (2) 50 percent of the next $1,000 of the taxpayer’s out-of-pocket expenses for each student’s qualified tuition and related expenses. Thus, the maximum credit a taxpayer may claim for a taxable year is $1,500 multiplied by the number of students in the family who meet the enrollment criteria described above.
The amount a taxpayer may claim as a Hope Scholarship Credit is gradually reduced for taxpayers who have modified adjusted gross income between $40,000 ($80,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly) and $50,000 ($100,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly). Taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income over $50,000 ($100,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly) may not claim the Hope Scholarship Credit. Both the dollar limitation on the expenses for which the credit may be claimed and the modified adjusted gross income limitation will be indexed for inflation in 2002 and years thereafter. The Hope Scholarship Credit may be claimed for payments of qualified tuition and related expenses made on or after January 1, 1998, for academic periods beginning on or after January 1, 1998. Therefore, the first time taxpayers will be able to claim the credit is when they file their 1998 tax returns in 1999.