Maine Educational Opportunity Tax Credit
The Opportunity Maine Program provides a state income tax credit for student loan payments made by graduates of Maine colleges who live, work and pay taxes in Maine.
Initially established by an act of the Maine State Legislature in 2007, the Opportunity Maine Program provides reimbursement of education-related loans through a tax credit available for qualified Maine taxpayers. Because this is a newly established program, it applies only to loans associated with coursework completed after January 1, 2008. The tax credit is available for payments that graduates make on student loans, not payments made by parents on parent loans. Businesses that pay employees’ student loans as an employee benefit will also be able to claim the tax credit.
Because the Maine Educational Opportunity Tax Credit is a credit available to Maine income tax filers, the following guidelines apply at the time the taxpayer claims the credit:
- The taxpayer is a Maine resident.
- The taxpayer attended and obtained an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited Maine community college, college or university, and that all degree-related coursework was performed at an accredited Maine community college, college or university. (Off-campus study programs count as credits from the home institution.)
- As an undergraduate student, the taxpayer lived in Maine (living at the College qualifies) while pursuing the above-mentioned degree, except during periods when the student was not taking classes, or when it was reasonably necessary to live outside Maine to perform academic work as part of a Maine institution’s academic programs (such as study abroad and transfer programs).
- The taxpayer has lived and worked in Maine during any period when he/she seeks to claim the educational opportunity tax credit. He/she may move from Maine at any time, but may not claim the credit for tax periods while a non-resident of Maine.
- The taxpayer agrees to maintain records relating to loan payments claimed under the educational opportunity tax credit for five (5) years after those payments are claimed.
- The taxpayer agrees, with respect to educational loans, that
- He/she may only claim the education opportunity tax credit with respect to loans that are part of his/her financial aid package (loans that were certified by Bates College) and that have a repayment term of at least 8 years;
- Prepayments are not eligible for the educational opportunity tax credit;
- He/she may refinance the education loans only if the loans remain separate from other debt;
- The taxpayer acknowledges his/her responsibility to provide the source, principal amount, interest rate and term of any loans that were part of his/her financial aid package;
- The taxpayer acknowledges his/her right to take advantage of forbearance and deferment provisions in loan agreements without forfeiting the right to claim the educational opportunity tax credit when payment resumes;
- The taxpayer releases the institution to transfer or disclose any personal information necessary in administering the Opportunity Maine Program.
A qualified Maine taxpayer may claim an Educational Opportunity Tax for the amount of qualified loans repaid in a given tax year up to a monthly benchmark loan payment established by the State Tax Assessor (Maine Revenue Service). Further, students who began their Maine college careers prior to January 1, 2008, must calculate a proration factor by dividing the total number of credit hours earned after December 31, 2007, by the 34 credits required to receive the Bates College degree.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What do I need to apply for the credit?
A. You apply for the tax credit at the time you file your Maine Income Tax Return. The Maine Revenue Service will have a tax worksheet to complete. You will need a copy of your transcript, a listing of undergraduate loans you borrowed in pursuit of your degree, and proof of loans you repaid during the tax year.
Q. Can I pre-pay on my educational loans?
A. No. Prepayment makes the taxpayer ineligible for the Opportunity Maine credit.
Q. Can I consolidate my educational loans and still qualify?
A. Yes, as long as only undergraduate educational loans are consolidated and the total debt is equal to or less than the original debt.
Q. What if I misplace my tax credit documents and information?
A. You may get a copy of your transcript from the Bates Registrar. Your lenders or loan servicers will have information about your debt and repayment history and/or you can view your loan borrowing history through the Garnet Gateway.