How to Get the Student Loan Interest Deduction

The student loan interest deduction allows you to deduct up to $2,500 from your taxes.
Ryan Lane
By Ryan Lane 
Edited by Des Toups

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The student loan interest deduction is a tax break for college students or parents who took on debt to pay for their school. It allows you to deduct up to $2,500 in interest paid from your taxable income.

Payments on federal student loans have been paused since March 2020. If you didn't make any payments in 2022, then you likely don't have any interest to deduct on your tax return. But, if you made payments toward a capitalized federal loan interest balance or made interest payments made on loans that aren't eligible for the payment freeze, like private student loans, there is still an opportunity for you to deduct the interest paid.

Is student loan interest deductible?

Student loan interest is deductible if your modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI, is less than $70,000 ($145,000 if filing jointly). If your MAGI was between $70,000 and $85,000 ($175,000 if filing jointly), you can deduct less than than the maximum $2,500.

The student loan interest deduction is not an itemized deduction — it's taken above the line. That means it's subtracted from your taxable income to save you money. For example, if you fall into the 22% tax bracket, the maximum student loan interest deduction would put $550 back in your pocket.

Who can deduct student loan interest?

If your MAGI is less than $85,000 ($175,000 if filing jointly), you can deduct student loan interest paid on federal and private student loans in the following instances:

  • You used the loan for qualified education expenses. These include tuition, room and board, books and other necessary expenses, such as transportation.

  • You're making interest payments while still in school. This deduction isn't just for graduates doing taxes: If you’re an overachiever who is making student loan payments while still in school, you may be able to take this deduction too.

  • You took out the loan for a dependent. If you took out a loan in your own name for someone else — like a parent PLUS loan for your child, for example — you can take the student loan interest deduction.

  • You were obligated to repay the loan. Even if your wages are being garnished or you're otherwise legally responsible for the loan, you can still deduct any interest you've paid off.

You can't claim the student loan interest deduction if your filing status is married filing separately. You're also ineligible if you’re listed as a dependent on someone else's tax return. A parent cannot claim the interest deduction — even if the student is claimed as a dependent — if the parent is not legally obligated to pay interest on the loan.

There is no limit to the number of years you can deduct student loan interest. You can take this deduction each year you're within the income limits, repay a qualified student loan and meet the deduction's additional eligibility requirements.

Student loan interest deduction form

If you paid more than $600 in interest in 2022, you will automatically receive form 1098-E — a student loan interest deduction form — in the mail or by email.

You may have paid less than that amount with federal interest rates at 0% and payments suspended for all of 2022. But you can still deduct whatever you did pay if you otherwise qualify.

If you don't receive a student loan interest deduction document, ask your student loan servicer or private lender to send it to you. A copy of the form, as well as details on how much interest you paid, may also be available in your online account portal.

Are student loan payments deductible?

When you repay student loans, you pay down the original balance and the interest that has accrued on that balance. You can deduct that interest on your taxes, but the entire student loan payment amount is not tax-deductible.

For example, say you have a $29,000 student loan with an interest rate of 5%. At the start of the standard 10-year repayment plan, you'd pay roughly $308 each month with about $121 of that payment going toward student loan interest.

Over your first year in repayment, you'd repay $3,691 overall: $2,293 in principal and $1,398 in interest. If you qualified for the student loan interest deduction, you could reduce your taxable income by the portion that went toward interest.

This includes not just newly accrued interest — like that $1,398 — but also any money that pays off interest that was capitalized, or added to your balance, when you entered repayment.

Additional education tax breaks

If you're still in school or paying for education expenses, the government offers additional education tax credits and deductions. You can claim the American opportunity credit or the lifetime learning credit, or opt for the tuition and fees deduction if you don't qualify for a credit.

You can claim these benefits even if you paid for expenses with student loans. Your income and other factors can help you determine which will save you the most. As with the student loan interest deduction, you must file your taxes jointly if you're married to be eligible for these tax breaks.

Should you refinance your student loans?

Refinancing student loans can reduce your monthly payment and the amount of interest you pay. If you have private loans, use the calculator below to estimate your potential savings. Don't refinance federal student loans while payments and interest are paused.

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