What’s Your Tax Issue? What’s a Full-Time Course Load?

The Tax Issue

I am enrolled as a part-time student at Ryerson University.  I have an issue in which I was listed for full-time status for a semester for which I took 3 classes (9 hours a week).

My Student Fees office claimed that 9 hours a week is considered a full-time course load, but from what I have found on the Canadian Revenue Agency website is a 10 hour benchmark.  I am only inquiring as there is a huge difference in money for this switch for my tax return.

When enrolled as a part-time student, can the number of classes in a semester affect your taxes?

The Answer

A “full-time” student may be entitled to claim a tax credit based on $400 per month as an education amount and $65 per month as a textbook credit. For a part-time student, those amounts drop to $120 and $20, so your status will definitely make a difference.

The term “full-time” is not defined in the law. You could, for example be considered as a full-time student taking a 9-hour course load as your school suggests.

Your confusion stems from the fact that access to the tax credit requires a two-fold test. Not only must you be a full-time student, you must also be enrolled in a “qualifying educational program”.

A qualifying educational program is defined as a program at a post-secondary level of not less than 3 weeks in duration that requires at least 10 hours of per week on courses or work in the program. The hours must be part of the course, not home study.

So, the short answer is the 10 hour requirement must be met in order for you to claim the full-time credits. Certainly a roundabout way of getting there, but that’s our government hard at work to simplify the tax Act.

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