Many Ohio college students missing out on tax credit

Anna Staver

Two-thirds of eligible Ohio college students and their families are not using an education tax credit worth thousands, according to a report by the Treasury Department.

“As college costs continue to rise, $2,500 can go a long way toward helping Ohio families afford college costs,” Senator Sherrod Brown said in a press release. “While only 35 percent of Ohio families filed last year, it’s not too late for families to claim this important tax credit.”

The American Opportunity College Tax Credit offers full-time students and their families one dollar back for every dollar spent on tuition, up to $2,000. It then offers 25 cents back for every dollar spent on the next $2,000. In total, families of full-time college students can receive $2,500 back in their taxes each year. The report, released last week by the Treasury Department, estimates that the average credit going to Ohio families was $1,918 last year.

Rob Evans, a spokesman for the Ohio Board of Regents, said he was concerned so few Ohio college students were taking advantage of this credit.

“If there’s some more money that folks can save and that will make it a little more affordable for them to go to school and to stay in school and finish, that’s important for Ohio generally,” Evans said.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the lack of participation because the tax code is complex and can sometimes be confusing. Evans said students or parents should check the IRS website.

It provides some basic questions and answers that will help people determine eligibility.

He said that Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut would send a letter out this week explaining the tax credit to the chief financial officers, financial aid offices, and presidents of all Ohio universities.

“There are a lot of other resources out there that aren’t being as utilized as they could be too,” Evans said. “It’s not just making the policies but it’s also helping folks to become aware of what options are out there and what opportunities.”

Contact Anna Staver at [email protected].