By: Tocarra Barnes – Contributing writer

Now that your college student is out of the nest, you may be questioning whether or not you can claim them on your tax return.

Here are some key factors for if, when, and how long you may be able to claim your college student as a dependent and continue to receive the $500 dependent tax credit.

They are under age 24 and:

  1. a full-time student for at least five months of the year
  2. lived with you more than half the year (being away on/off campus, still counts as living with you)
  3. did not provide more than half of their own support (this includes food, clothing, lodging, medical expenses, education)
  4. is your child, stepchild, foster child, (younger) sibling, niece or nephew
  5. is not filing a joint tax return

Your student can also file his/her own tax return even if you claim them as a dependent, but will need to indicate someone else can claim them. Typically, dependent students who earn less than $12,200 are not required to file a tax return. However, if income taxes were withheld from their pay, they should file a federal and/or state tax return to claim a refund.

Be sure to discuss your options with your student to prevent filing errors.