For many years, two popular tax credits, the Hope credit and the Lifetime Learning credit, helped students and their parents recoup some of their education expenses. For the 2009 and 2010 tax years, the new American Opportunity credit joins the educational tax break list and offers even more help for more taxpayers.

The key part of the educational assistance remains the same in all cases. The tax breaks are credits rather than deductions, so they take a bigger bite out of your tax bill.

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