What is a "qualified student loan"?
A "qualifying loan" is a loan you took out solely to pay qualified education expenses that were:
- For you, your spouse, or a person who was your dependent when you took out the loan,
- Paid or incurred within a reasonable period of time before or after you took out the loan, and
- For education provided during an academic period for an eligible student.
For details about these 3 requirements, see below.
Loans from the following sources are not qualified student loans.
- A related person.
- A qualified employer plan.
- For more information on the above, please click here.
Qualification #1: Expenses must be for yourself, your spouse, or your dependent. Generally, your dependent is someone who is either a:
- Qualifying child, or Qualifying relative.You can find more information about dependents in Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.
Exceptions. For purposes of the student loan interest deduction, there are the following exceptions to the general rules for dependents. An individual can be your dependent even if you are the dependent of another taxpayer. An individual can be your dependent even if the individual files a joint return with a spouse. An individual can be your dependent even if the individual had gross income that was equal to or more than the exemption amount for the year ($4,000 for 2015).
Qualification #2: The expenses must have been paid within a reasonable period of time after taking out the loan. Qualified education expenses are treated as paid or incurred within a "reasonable period of time" before or after you take out the loan if they are paid with the proceeds of student loans that are part of a federal post-secondary education loan program.
Even if not paid with the proceeds of that type of loan, the expenses are treated as paid or incurred within a reasonable period of time if both of the following requirements are met:
- The expenses relate to a specific academic period, and
- The loan proceeds are disbursed within a period that begins 90 days before the start of that academic period and ends 90 days after the end of that academic period.
If neither of the above situations applies, the reasonable period of time usually is determined based on all the relevant facts and circumstances.
Qualification #3: The expenses must have been paid for education provided during an academic period for an eligible student.
Academic period. An academic period includes a semester, trimester, quarter, or other period of study (such as a summer school session) as reasonably determined by an educational institution. In the case of an educational institution that uses credit hours or clock hours and does not have academic terms, each payment period can be treated as an academic period.
Eligible student. This is a student who was enrolled at least half-time in a program leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential.
Enrolled at least half-time. A student was enrolled at least half-time if the student was taking at least half the normal full-time work load for his or her course of study.
The standard for what is half of the normal full-time work load is determined by each eligible educational institution. However, the standard may not be lower than any of those established by the Department of Education under the Higher Education Act of 1965.