Take Your Credit

5. Take your credit: Grad students will also want to see if they qualify for the federal Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, which allows individuals to subtract up to $2,000 annually from their tax bill.

The credit applies to 20 percent of tuition and other required education expenses up to $10,000, and is available to single filers whose modified adjusted gross income is less than $61,000 or married people with under $122,000. (The American Opportunity Tax Credit, set to expire at the end of 2012, is only available for the first four years of postsecondary education.)

The bottom line: Students have to be creative and look at all possible sources because sometimes you have to put it together.