The National Association of College Stores is urging students and their families to take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which applies to textbooks and other course materials in 2009 through 2012.

The credit covers textbooks and other course material expenses —as well as tuition and fees not covered by scholarships or grants up to $2,500 each year for the first four years of college. Forty percent of the credit is refundable.

The NACS has created a Web site,, to provide information about how to best take advantage of the program, according to NACS director of government relations Rich Hershman.

The association has also developed brochures and a Facebook page in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service. It includes a summary of the AOTC, explanatory examples, answers to frequently asked questions about the credit, and direct links for further information from the IRS.

According to an October 2010 study by the Treasury Department, AOTC recipients in 2009 received an average tax credit of more than $1,700. In addition, 4.5 million students and families received a tax refund from the AOTC in 2009 with an average value of $800.

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