What is the Hope Scholarship?The Hope Scholarship is actually a tax credit, not a scholarship. Tax credits are subtracted directly from the tax a family owes, rather than reducing taxable income like a tax deduction. A family must file a tax return and owe taxes to take advantage of it. The Hope credit is not refundable for families who do not pay taxes or who owe less in taxes than the maximum amount of the Hope tax credit for which the family is eligible.
A family may claim a tax credit of up to $1,500 per tax year for each eligible dependent. This can be done for up to two tax years. A family may claim up to 100% of the first $1,000 of eligible expenses and 50% of the next $1,000 for a maximum credit of $1,500.
The actual amount of the credit depends on the family's income, the amount of qualified tuition and fees paid, and the amount of certain scholarships and allowances subtracted from tuition. The total maximum credit also is based on the number of eligible dependents, rather than a maximum dollar amount for the family, as with the Lifetime Learning tax credit.