Here’s the story. Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Obama passed a while back included some changes to how students get tax credits for education. Most of it just means you’re probably elligible for a little more money in 2009 and 2010 (you can get the deets from the IRS). Beyond numbers, a little bit of the actual langauge changed. Now, “course materials” are covered. This means you can get the tax credit for stuff that you buy out-of-pocket, not just for tuition. (Since it’s a credit, you’ll still get the cash even if your income ends up being diddly-squat at the end of the year.)

If you’re paying your whole tuition, this is probably useless. The credit will already reimburse you up to $2,500 for that. However, if grants and scholarships already cover those costs, the new act gives you another outlet to claim the credit towards — textbooks, paint supplies, lab fees, etc.

Not everything is settled on the IRS side of things (they still haven’t released the 2009 Publication 970, which covers this change), so for now, if you’re not sure, just save all of your “course material” receipts until tax time.

[photo via Josh Holderbaum]