“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
No one can argue the merits and importance of a good education.
Pointing out that college is expensive falls somewhere between common sense and obvious. Proper and prudent planning for college costs can provide you the ability to help reduce the strain on your financial resources. One of the most efficient methods to accomplish this is through a 529 plan.
A 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. It is named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code which created these types of savings plans in 1996.
529 plans allow you to save dollars today that will grow tax deferred for use on higher education costs. If used for qualified expenses, the funds (including earnings) can be withdrawn tax free. You can invest in any states 529 plan, but if you use your own states, you may be able to receive a state income tax deduction for your investment as well. Connecticut allows for such deductions when contributing to their plan. I call it the holy trinity of tax efficient investing.
Some advantages to 529 plans
- Starting early pays off- the earlier you begin, the better
- Anyone can contribute to it- Mom & Dad, Grandma & Grandpa, Aunt Ida.
- 529 plans are assets of the owners- This means that when calculating financial aid when it’s time to apply to college, it’s not the students asset. (That’s good)
- The Holy Trinity of tax advantages, as mentioned above
- Tuition isn’t the only qualified expense- books, supplies, and room and board are too!
- They are easy to set up and have limited reporting- no 1099 until the year you take withdrawals
- If the chosen beneficiary doesn’t need the funds, they can be used for another family member
There are few, if any, strategies that will be more efficient in saving for college than a 529 plan. If you have children or family members, starting early pays off. Even small amounts, saved on a regular basis, can add up over time. And don’t feel that you missed the boat because your children are a bit older, now is always a better time than never.
Average Cost of College – Four Years
2011 2021 2031
Public 4-Year, In-State: $78,875 $128,480 $209,280
Private 4 Year: $161,199 $262,576 $427,708
(Source: Peterson’s Undergraduate Database, 2012. Based on average total charges for tuition, plus room and board for one year (2011-2012) Assumes 5% annual increases)
Noah is a Certified Financial Planner ™ and writes on Patch for the promotion of financial literacy and awareness -- a topic in which he believes an informational void exists. He makes himself available by appointment, telephone, or email to all readers and can be reached at 203-204-6226 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Noah Schwartz is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative of and offers securities and advisory services through WRP Investments, Inc., member FINRA & SIPC. Blueprint Financial Strategies is not affiliated with WRP Investments, Inc. Securities and advisory services are supervised by WRP Investments, Inc. at 4407 Belmont Avenue, Youngstown, OH 44505 (330) 759-2023.