Claiming a Tuition Amount From Your Child’s College
The tuition amount gives students and parents a much-needed tax break and helps with the rising cost of college and university. If your child is a full-time or part-time student, they can claim an amount for tuition while enrolled at a qualifying college or university. If they don’t have enough taxable income and don’t need to claim the full tuition amount, no need to worry: the unused tuition amount can be transferred or carried forward to a future year.
Tuition Amount Eligibility Requirements
You can claim the tuition amount for an eligible program from a qualifying institution. In addition, you might be able to add other fees (such as admission and enrollment fees) to the tuition amount, as long as the fees are at least $100 and paid to one of the following:
- University, college, or other educational institution in Canada for post-secondary courses
- Educational institution in Canada certified by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada as courses to acquire or improve their work skills
- University, college or other educational institution in the United States for post-secondary courses, as long as they live close to the border during the school year and travels to school
- University located outside Canada, as long as they are a full-time student attending courses that are at least three weeks long and provide credits towards their degree at the bachelor’s degree level or higher
You cannot claim the tuition amount in certain situations, including:
- when tuition fees were paid or reimbursed by your child’s employer
- a job training program
- a federal program to help athletes
Claiming the Tuition Amount
If your child is a student and qualifies for the tuition amount, it’s a good idea to make sure they prepare their income tax return first. They should receive the T2202 tax slip from their college or university.
“It has been my experience that university students are often unaware that they are required to download the T2202 from their college or university website portal,” says Mark Goodfield, a chartered professional accountant in Toronto. “Parents need to be diligent and remind their children that they need this slip to complete both the child’s and parent’s returns.”
Your child can claim a federal and provincial tax credit for the tuition amount. To claim the tax credit, they must file their income taxes and complete both the federal and provincial Schedule 11 forms. This Non-Refundable Tax Credit tuition can be used to reduce their taxes owing to zero. When preparing their return using TurboTax, Schedule 11 is completed in the student profile and any amounts claimed by them will appear on Line 32300 of their tax return.
Transferring the Tuition Amount
If there is any amount left over after your child has claimed the tuition amount, they have two choices: transfer it or carry it forward. This comes up a lot since students don’t typically earn a lot of income while going to college or university.
Your child can transfer up to $5,000 of the tax credit, less the amount used to reduce tax owing. So if they reduced their tax owing by $1,000, the most that can be transferred is $4,000. The tuition amount can be transferred to their parent, grandparent or spouse/common-law partner.
Claiming the leftover tuition amount is easy:
- Once your child has completed Schedule 11, they can transfer the leftover amount.
- Parents and grandparents can claim the leftover amount on Line 32400 of their tax return.
- If your child has a spouse or common-law partner, the spouse will claim the available credit on Schedule 2 and report it on Line 32600 of their tax return. (TurboTax recommends you prepare your spousal tax returns simultaneously so these credits will transfer automatically for you).
It is important to note that if one spouse is eligible to claim a spouse or common-law partner amount on line 30300 for the student, parents and grandparents are not eligible to receive a tuition transfer; in this case, it must be transferred to the spouse (or carried forward).
Carrying Forward the Tuition Amount
Alternatively, your child could carry forward the leftover amount to claim in future years. This is also done by completing Schedule 11 or selecting Tuition Fees Carryforward in the Student section of TurboTax. They’ll more than likely be able to use the tax credit once they start working full-time and earning more money. They have to claim the carry forward amount in the first year that they have to pay income tax and CRA will apply this amount automatically when needed.
What Edition of TurboTax Is Right for Me?
Answer a few simple questions on our product recommender and we can help guide you to the right edition that will reflect your individual circumstances.
You can always start your return in TurboTax Free, and if you feel the need for additional assistance, you can upgrade to any of our paid editions or get live help from an expert with our Assist & Review or Full Service. But don’t worry, while using the online version of the software when you choose to upgrade, your information is instantly carried over so you can pick up right where you left off.
(TurboTax Live™ Full Service is not available in Quebec)
References & Resources
- Canada Revenue Agency: Line 32400 – Tuition, Education, and Textbook Amounts Transferred from a Student
- Canada Revenue Agency: Transfer or Carry Forward Amounts
- Mark Goodfield, CPA, The Blunt Bean Counter; Toronto, Ontario
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images