Argosy University Blog

Learn about the American Opportunity Tax Credit

Without a doubt, college education is one of the most expensive investments you can ever make. Fortunately, the costs do not have to be that prohibitive because there are measures you can take to reduce your college education expenditure. If you are thinking about going back to school, you can advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) to enjoy affordable education. First, however, you need to learn how this tax credit works.

What is the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)?
The AOTC is a refundable tax credit for undergraduate education. You can use this tax credit to decrease your federal tax bill by up to $2, 500 annually for each qualified learner. The credit is only available for the first four years of college education, meaning those who have finished four-year undergraduate degrees cannot claim it for their graduate studies. The tax credit was initially set to expire in 2012 but the recent fiscal tax deal extended it to 2017.

Who Qualifies?
As stated above, this tax credit is available for the first four years of college education. If you are studying in any post-secondary educational institutions, you are eligible as long as you are enrolled at least part time. Students of all accredited institutions, including online colleges, are eligible. The maximum credit is $2,500 per year for four years. Since you can claim it for multiple qualifying students (your dependents) you can save a lot of money this way.

You lose your eligibility for AOTC if you are single and you have an adjusted gross income (AGI) worth $80,000-$90,000 or you are married and your joint AGI falls between $160,000 and $180,000. If you did not join college after high school, here is your chance to enroll for college at an affordable price. The fact that accredited online institutions qualify means you can achieve your educational ambitions from your home, which will reduce the costs for you even further.

In short, you qualify if you:

  • Are studying in an accredited post secondary institution
  • Are in your first four years of college
  • Are single with an AGI of $80,000-$90,000
  • Are married with an AGI of $160,000 and $180,000

Which Expenses are Covered?

The American Opportunity Tax Credit only applies to qualified expenses, which are defined as the expenses that you must meet to enroll or attend your college. These include:

  • Tuition
  • Books
  • Course equipment

Going by this argument, course materials are covered (since you need them to attend your course) but sports fees (for those who are taking non-sport related courses) are not covered. Other things that are not covered include:

  • Room and board
  • Insurance
  • Activity
  • Transportation

There are things that reduce your qualified expenses and they include:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Fellowships
  • Educational assistance from employers
  • Educational assistance for veterans
  • Other tax-free benefits

Examples of things that do not decrease your qualified expenses include:

  • Inheritances
  • Gifts
  • Bequests

Want to learn more about ways you can fund your education at Argosy University? Contact us to learn more today at 1-866-4ARGOSY!



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The Placebo Effect: A Whole New Outlook

Psychologists have studied the placebo effect for many years; however, recent studies have given them new and interesting information regarding the effects and just how powerful the human mind can be. One study in particular is stating that when the mind knows that it is taking a drug for a particular reason, it reacts as the actual drug would react. This means that a patient given a sugar pill can have the exact same physical effects as a patient given the strong drug morphine. The psychologists have even gone onto say that the mind will still react the same way when they know the pill they are given is a sham. This brings up many other questions within the psychology field, such as how effective medications such as antidepressants really are.

During MRI and PET scans that are used to study the brain, the changes in the brain when given a placebo pill are exactly the same as the changes given with the real medication. This is also leading psychologists and researchers to believe that the mind may be powerful enough to heal the body if the mind is tricked into releasing certain chemicals that are needed for healing throughout the body. However, for this to be effective the patient must have positive beliefs and high hopes about the medication they are given. A recent study group that was told the new antidepressant medication would increase happiness by 90 percent within only days of taking it had a 59 percent improvement within the placebo group.

The placebo effect is counter-intuitive because we often forget how connected the mind and body are. For example, a group of people were put together and given a pill that was made to induce hallucinations. 40 percent of the group experienced paranoid thoughts and had visions that they have not experienced in the past. This group had no history of mental illness and a sugar pill was strong enough to create actual visions. Not only does this reinforce how powerful the human mind can be, but it also looks at the fact that hallucinations may be common and experienced by 'normal' people who are able to access that area of their brain on a regular basis.

Knowing that we only use a small portion of our brains and seeing through all these recent studies just how powerful the human mind can be, psychologists and scientists are wondering how powerful the mind can really be if we were able to access the other areas of our brains that are not used. They are also looking into further studies of brain activity occurring in those areas if a placebo pill is given and the participants are told it will activate unused portions of the brain. This study will include brain images that may give everyone a whole new outlook on the human mind.

Explore Argosy University's Psychology programs.

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Recent Biological and Genetic Findings

Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are some of the most well-known psychiatric disorders, and all are chronic and disabling. At face value, the diagnostic criteria, characteristics, and age of onset have little in common. However, more and more studies support that the three disorders share some genetic traits.

Here is a quick summary of the three disorders:


  • The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 1.1% of the United States population has schizophrenia.
  • According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), often referred to as the bible of psychiatry, the usual age of onset is the mid-20s.
  • The disorder is characterized by disorganized speech and thought, hallucinations and delusions (DSM-IV).

Bipolar Disorder:

  • A mood disorder that is characterized by extreme mood fluctuation between depression and mania/ hypo-mania (elated mood).
  • Average age of onset is 21.
  • The NIMH estimates that 2.6% of the U.S. population has either bipolar I or bipolar II disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 88 children in the United States are autistic.
  • ASD is generally diagnosed during childhood.
  • According to the DSM-IV ASDs are characterized by “restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.”

A recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry by Sullivan and colleagues (2012) reviewed three data sets of children with autism and family history of mental illness. Two of the studies were in Sweden- one nationally and one restricted to the county of Stockholm, and the other was in Israel. The intent of the research was to determine whether schizophrenia or bipolar disorder was a risk factor for autism.

In all three studies, the authors found that having a parent or sibling with schizophrenia increased the likelihood of a child having an autism spectrum disorder. The same was true for children who had a parent who was bipolar, but to a lesser extent.

The authors conclude that there is a genetic phenotype between the three disorders. What is particularly interesting is that at one type schizophrenia and autism were believe to be two sides of one coin, in that each disorder fell on the extreme end of a spectrum. Whereas autism had an extreme restricted and rigid organization of thought, schizophrenia was anything but. This theory has largely fallen by the wayside, but there the two disorders do seem to have some link.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012, March 30). Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders- Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Newwork, 14 Sites, United States, 2008. MMWR, 61(3), pp. 1-22.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2012, 2012). Statistics. Retrieved from
Sullivan, P. F., Magnusson, C., Reichenberg, A., Buman, M., Dalman, C., Davidson, M., et al. (2012). Family History of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorders as Risk Factors for Autism. Archives of General Psychiatriy, Published July, 2012.

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  • 2018

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