» By Meaghan Malone

Staff Writer

The 2013 tax season has arrived, and for many students, this means filling out tax returns, applying for federal financial aid and waiting for tax returns to arrive.

Many students eagerly await the 2013 tax season because they receive money that helps pay expenses and buy items they want. Lindsay Hart, a freshman psychology major, said, “I use the money to help fund educational expenses.”

Some students will be claimed as dependents by their parents or guardians. Other students will file independently.

A student can be claimed by his or her parent or guardian on their tax return if a student is under 24, is a full time student, is married but filing separately or as a single, is living with his or her parents or guardians for more than half of 2013 and/or does not supply more than half of his or her own support.

For the purposes of filing a tax return, dorm addresses are not classified as permanent addresses and do not count as living independently. The main difference in filing status lies in how tax credits and exemptions are distributed.

The Internal Revenue Service offers two tax credits students may qualify for: the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

The American Opportunity Credit allows many students enrolled in higher learning institutions to receive a tax benefit for as much as $2,500 per year and can be claimed for up to four years in a post-secondary institution.

The Lifetime Learning Credit allows for up to a $2,000 credit to be claimed yearly for qualified education expenses. The Lifetime Learning Credit does not have a limit on the number of years it can be claimed.

However, a tax-payer cannot claim the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Opportunity Credit for the same student in the same year. Students should talk to their parents, guardian or a professional before filing to discuss how they should file.

One of the most important applications a student should file annually is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The FAFSA is an application that allows a student to apply for federal aid to pay tuition and other college expenses.

Financial aid students can receive from this application ranges from subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans to Pell grants and other monetary educational assistance.

This application is also necessary to apply for to annually receive the Tennessee Lottery Hope Scholarship. The application opens the first of January every year and should be filed as soon as possible, as awards are given until funds are depleted.

Tax return money, scholarship money, and student loans can mean the difference between paying a bill, buying food, purchasing a computer or getting new clothes for some students.

Many students use the money for “frivolous things, such as DVDs, electronics, and things they don’t need,” said Kinsey Kurfiss, a senior English major.

However, for other students, the returns help with necessities. “Receiving a tax return allowed me to pay for car insurance one year,” said junior English major Jessica Chaney. TAS