Student loan tax deductible
Student loan tax deductible

Can I Get a Student Loan Tax Deduction?

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Update: November 22, 2022: Today the Biden-Harris Administration announced another extension to the payment pause on student loan payments which could go through August 2023. The most recent extension of the pause was set to end Dec 31, 2022, but Biden’s one-time student loan forgiveness program was blocked, so the pause was extended again. That means if blocks to Biden’s student loan debt cancellation are not resolved by June 30, 2023, student loan payments and interest will resume 60 days from June 30, through August 2023. Check back with the TurboTax blog for more up to date information regarding student loan debt.

Update: October 21, 222:  A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan following an emergency motion for an administration stay which prohibits discharging any student loan debt under the cancellation plan. While the court’s ruling is temporary, the current forgiveness timeline is frozen until the court’s briefing is due next week on the matter. If the court decides not to impose an injunction, the implementation will continue, if an injunction is imposed, loan forgiveness could be blocked while proceedings continue. The online application for student loan forgiveness is still live and you can still apply for student loan debt relief. The administration can still collect applications during the stay. Remember when applying, only apply on the Federal Student Aid website.  Check back with the TurboTax blog for more up to date information.

Update: October 15, 2022: The Department of Education has begun beta testing the student debt relief website. Borrowers are able to submit applications for the Biden-Harris Administration’s student debt relief program. This application will allow borrowers to begin signing up before the formal website is released later this month. The link to the application is:

August 24, 2022 Update:  President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the U.S. Department of Education announced a three part student loan debt relief plan that includes an extension of the pause on student loan payments until December 31, 2022, debt cancellation, and a proposal to create an income-driven repayment plan to help lower future monthly payments. Find out more details about what this can mean for you here and below.

April 6, 2022 Update: The Biden Administration has extended the pause of federal student loan payments, interest, and collections through August 31, 2022.

Student loans have become a tremendous burden for many young adults and parents today. With college costs skyrocketing and little hope to cover tuition without borrowing funds in some fashion, getting stuck with those student loan payments is almost certainly a fact of life after graduation. While you can’t typically escape student loan payments there is some COVID relief available provided by the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan, the President’s executive orders to help students with federal student loans and the recent student loan debt relief announced on August 24, 2022. Aside from the temporary relief, are there any tax breaks that ease the burden of student loans?

Below, we’ll explore the student loan tax deduction and how you can minimize the taxes you owe while you’re still in college.

What is the Student Loan Tax Deduction?

Luckily, taxpayers who make student loan payments on a qualified student loan may be able to get some relief if the loan they took out solely paid for higher education.

In many cases, the interest portion of your student loan payments paid during the tax year is tax-deductible. Your tax deduction is limited to interest up to $2,500 or the amount of interest you actually paid, whichever amount is less. COVID emergency relief and the recent student loan debt relief announced on August 24, 2022, allows suspension of loan federal loan payments an 0% interest, so you will most likely see a lower student loan deduction than usual at tax time, or even none at all.

You can deduct student loan interest if:

  • You paid interest on a qualified student loan in the tax year
  • You are legally obligated to pay interest on a qualified student loan
  • Your filing status is not married filing separately
  • You and your spouse, if filing jointly, cannot be claimed as dependents on someone else’s return, or
  • You are a single filer with income under $70,000. However, your full deduction phases out (is gradually reduced) between $70,000 and $85,000 ($140,000 and $170,000 married filing jointly). If your income falls above those limits, the student loan interest is not tax-deductible. Note: These thresholds are for tax year 2021 (the taxes you file in 2022).

The other good news regarding the student loan interest deduction is that you do not need to itemize your deductions in order to claim it. This makes sense considering many recent college graduates are not itemizing tax deductions and instead claim the standard deduction.

If you paid $600 or more in interest to a single lender during the year, you should receive a 1098-E form showing how much interest you paid for that time frame. If you made student loan payments but did not receive a 1098-E, you are still entitled to claim the interest deduction, but you may need to call the lender or pull up your records online.

*Note: The income thresholds listed in this image above are for the 2020 tax year (the taxes you file in 2021). 

What Does the Coronavirus Relief Mean for Student Loans?

We know times may be hard for students and their families right now due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a combination of the CARES Act followed by the American Rescue Plan and President Joe Biden’s executive orders, there are several forms of relief being provided for student loan borrowers. Find out, “What Coronavirus Relief Means for College Students and Grads” here.

One specific provision of the CARES Act, the U.S. government stimulus and relief package designed to help Americans during the pandemic, allows employers to make student loan payments on behalf of employees of up to $5,250 per employee each year from 2021 to 2025 (totaling up to $26,250). 

It’s important to know that if your employer provided you with student loan payback assistance, that money might be considered taxable income. 

The CARES Act initially suspended student loan payments and interest until the end of September 2020. However, President Joe Biden’s January 2021 executive order expanded relief and suspended student loan payments and interest until September 30, 2021. 

On April 6th, the Biden Administration extended the suspension of federal student loan payments, interest, and collections through August 31, 2022.

On August 24, 2022, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the U.S. Department of Education announced a three part student loan debt relief plan.  The student loan debt relief plan includes:

  • A student loan payment pause until Dec 31, 2022 on federal student loans. The pause includes the suspension of loan payments, 0% interest rate, and stopped collections on defaulted loans
  • Debt  cancellation of up to $10,000 for federal student loans and up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education if individual income is less than $125,000 and less than $250,000 for households
  • A proposal  to create a new income-driven repayment plan that will substantially reduce future monthly payments for lower-and middle-income borrowers.

The American Rescue Plan provides relief to students with government and federal student loans by allowing students with forgiven loan debt to exclude the discharged debt from their taxable income for tax years 2021 through 2025.

The provision does not apply to loans made by private lenders.

What Other Tax Information Might Apply to Students?

  • Your credit card interest might be deductible: If you use your credit card for qualified educational expenses, you might be able to write off the interest on your taxes. But there is one condition: every item charged to the card must be used exclusively for school-related needs, otherwise you can’t write anything off.
  • Loan forgiveness can result in a tax bill: If you’re on an income-driven student loan forgiveness program, you might owe a large tax debt after the loan is forgiven. The IRS might consider the forgiven debt to be income.
  • Consolidated student loans still qualify for the student loan tax deduction: If you have multiple student loans (covering multiple semesters, for example), your student loan interest is probably still deductible on your taxes.   

If I Default on My Student Loan, Does it Affect My Taxes?

If you halt payments to your student loan servicer and your loan goes into default, there may be a few serious consequences. For example, the government could garnish your tax refund until your debt is repaid. Other federal benefits, like any Social Security payments, would also be subject to garnishment.

Note: If you’re struggling to make your student loan payments, COVID-19 emergency relief provided by way of the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan, the President’s executive orders, and the recent student loan debt relief allows students with federal student loans relief. The President’s most recent student loan debt relief on August 24, 2022, extends the student loan pause until December 31, 2022.

What Forms Do I Need to Fill Out My Taxes as a College Student?

Before the April 15th tax deadline, you’ll receive tax forms in the mail reporting any income you made and expenses that may be deductible. These forms might come from your previous employers, payers who you provided services to, your college, loan servicers, your bank, and any retirement accounts you have set up.

It’s a good idea to have all your documentation in front of you when you sit down to file so you report all of your income and don’t miss any tax deductions or credits you deserve. Even if you don’t receive forms reporting your income you still have to report any income paid to you on your taxes.

Didn’t receive a form that reports your income?  Don’t worry, TurboTax partners with hundreds of financial institutions allowing you to automatically import your W-2, 1099, and 1098 information. With TurboTax W-2 import, over 150 million W-2s are supported. You can also jumpstart your taxes by snapping a photo of your W-2 and 1099-NEC eliminating data entry.

Here are a few of the forms you might need to look out for:

  • W-2: This form comes from your employer and shows what taxes were withheld from your paycheck.
  • Form 1099-NEC: You’ll receive a 1099-NEC if you did any freelance or contract work, but you weren’t an official employee. This is only applicable if your income was over $600 total for the year.  Even if you don’t make $600 and don’t receive a 1099-NEC you still have to claim your income on your taxes.
  • Form 1098-E: If you paid over $600 in interest for student loans, your lender should send this form to you.
  • Form 1098-T: 1098-T is your tuition statement, which your college or university should send to you. It will show the amount of tuition you paid, tuition-related expenses, and any grants or scholarships applied. 
  • Form 8863: This form is filed with your taxes and is necessary to claim education credits like the Lifetime Learning Credit or the American Opportunity Credit, for example. With TurboTax you don’t need to worry about filling out forms filed with your taxes. TurboTax will fill out the appropriate forms and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your entries.

Tax Tips for Students

Heading into tax season and want a few more tax tips to help you through? Read some of our tax tips below.

Tip #1: File even if you’re below the income threshold

If you make less than the IRS income filing threshold, which changes each tax year, you’re not required to file a tax return. Generally, if you made under the standard deduction for the tax year ($12,550 single or $25,100 married filing jointly for 2021 and $12,950 single or $25,900 married filing jointly for 2022) you are not required to file a tax return. But even if you make less than the specified amount, you might still be owed a tax refund if your employer withheld taxes or if you are eligible for some other tax credits like education credits or a recovery rebate credit. The IRS reports close to a billion dollars in unclaimed refunds every year, some of which belongs to college students who file their taxes.

Tip #2: Get a tax refund for work-study opportunities

Many college students end up in a work-study program to explore their career interests and get experience in their desired field. Any money you earn is considered taxable income. However, the school will withhold income taxes from your paychecks, so you may get a refund when it’s time to pay taxes.

Tip #3: Pay attention to your location

Do you attend school in a different state than your permanent residence? Then you may have to pay taxes on any income you’ve made in another state. If you have jobs in each location, your earnings are likely subject to different tax rates. In some cases, this might work out in your favor. For example, if you work in a state without income taxes, that can help lower the overall amount of tax you pay.

Claiming Your Student Loan Tax Deduction and More with TurboTax

Don’t worry about knowing and memorizing all the tax laws that may apply to you as a college student. TurboTax has you covered and will ask you simple questions about your circumstances and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your answers or you can fully hand your taxes over to a TurboTax Live tax expert and get your taxes done from start to finish. 


Lisa Greene-Lewis

Lisa has over 20 years of experience in tax preparation. Her success is attributed to being able to interpret tax laws and help clients better understand them. She has held positions as a public auditor, controller, and operations manager. Lisa has appeared on the Steve Harvey Show, the Ellen Show, and major news broadcast to break down tax laws and help taxpayers understand what tax laws mean to them. For Lisa, getting timely and accurate information out to taxpayers to help them keep more of their money is paramount. More from Lisa Greene-Lewis

21 responses to “Can I Get a Student Loan Tax Deduction?”

  1. about the married filing separately requirement… daughter is legally separated and the divorce will be final in 4 months. can she qualify?

  2. My loan servicer (Navient) is telling me that I CANNOT deduct the interest paid on my loan last year because I re-financed it with them mid year. Essentially, I was paying really high interest until May 2018 and in June, I had Navient refinance the loan. Is this true that if you re-fi, you cannot claim any of the interest paid in that year to either of the loan services?

  3. I was going to beauty schools of america for barber class and recieve a letter saying i can file for student credits am i going to get any cash back from that

  4. i received a 1098e from AES where i paid $2100 in interest. I also paid $450 in interest to my federal loans through i did not receive a 1098e for the federal loan since it does not exceed $500. however, can i had this to the $2100 interest i paid to AES for a total over $2500?

    • Hello Jen

      Yes your interest paid on a student loan is a potential deduction on your tax return. There are certain income limits that apply but TurboTax can walk you through the steps to see if it is deductible to your situation.

      Tuition and fees is also a potential deduction on your taxes as there are three possible credits/deductions that are available. TurboTax can determine the one that is most beneficial to you.

      Thank you

      TurboTax Derek

  5. I If I am still in school and haven’t paid anything back on my loans yet, do I still qualify? I haven’t paid any money out of pocket yet back to my debtors.

  6. if you’re on the IBR plan you did not make a payment so you did not have any interest listed BUT if you consolidate your loans it will qualify as one BIG payment and you WILL get a interest amount

  7. If I have graduated and am currently not enrolled in school will I be able to deduct loan interest? Everything I see says that you have to be at least enrolled part time in school.

    • I think you’re a little confused. You don’t have to be a student to deduct loan interest.

      You’ve graduated, most likely making your loan payments, you can deduct it. But as this says no more than $2500 a year. You have to be a filing your taxes as single. Can must be making less than $60000 a year.

  8. is it smart to completely pay student loan off or pay off the high interest credit cards an double up on the $35,000.00 loan? Using my defined benefits or just roll it over in 401 k plan?

  9. Who are they kidding $2500..? All student loan interest should be fully deductible regardless. They want Americans to be educated, assist in the process. What makes me laugh is that there was a time, long time ago, pre Ronald Regan, (screw the middle class) when all interest was tax deductible. Why not for student loans? All student loan interest should could come right off the top of your income. There should be no limited as to how much. The only requirement should be that you graduated. No tax deductions for I tried but did not finish.

  10. i owe federal studdent loans and interest but am on the IBR and have qualified the tax year not to make payments. Can i still claim anything on my taxes if i did not make a payment,

    • @lesa.hudgens. No, you would have to make a payment to be able to deduct the interest paid on that payment. Any interest accrued and not paid is not deductible.

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