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Deducting Student Loan Interest

I receive the following email the other day and I am posting it to see if anyone else has some advice for a fellow reader with regards to his situation:

From: Dave
Subject: Tax Breaks for Student Loan
Hi Jim,

I’ve got a question on a difficult situation.

My girlfriend’s brother exited an Indiana university early with a 4.0 GPA several years ago, and when he wanted to go back he didn’t have the resources to get started. My girlfriend got a $3k student loan for him, as well as a laptop she put on her Discover card, with the idea that he would buy books and give her the rest back to immediately pay back Discover. Long story short, he never paid her back, ended up running away to the Southwest, and pawned her laptop. There’s not much that the authorities can do, since she applied for the loan and essentially gave him a gift on her credit card, but I was wondering if there was anything that she could redeem from the student loan on her taxes. All police reports have been filed at present.

Any help, as you could imagine, would be an enormous help. We have a mortgage to pay and would like to afford to have a child. I just want to see some of that back, if at all possible.

My response:

Thanks for the email and that’s unfortunate what’s happened between your girlfriend and her brother, but sometimes that’s life. In general, student loan interest is deductible if you make under $50,000 (after adjustments) and I would think that since she is a cosigner on a student loan, she could claim the deduction as long as she’s not a dependent on someone else’s claim (her parents?). If she just got a regular loan from the bank (not a student loan), and lent it to him, she may not have any options in terms of deductibility.

Anyone have any thoughts?