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Help Alleviate Some of Your Financial Stress About College Funding

When it comes to putting away money for college, you need all the support you can get. Investing in a 529 college savings plan offers you many financial and tax benefits.

529 College Savings Plan

So, what does an average college student pay for a good education these days and how can a 529 plan make a difference? According to the College Board, the average published prices for tuition, fees and room and board for four-year undergraduate colleges and universities during 2017-18 are $20,770 (for in-state public schools), $36,420 (for out-of-state public schools) and $46,950 (for private non-profit schools). These are not small sums of money.

Paying for your child's college education may seem overwhelming, especially with rising costs. In addition to scholarships, financial aid and student loans, there are many ways for you to help finance higher education expenses. A 529 college savings plan is an investment opportunity that may help.

Named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, 529 plans offer you tax-deferred growth of your investment as well as tax-free educational use of the money. Although you can't deduct contributions to a 529 plan on your federal income tax, some states permit their residents to deduct all or some of their contributions from their state income tax when investing in their own state's plan. Best of all, the plan's student beneficiary can enjoy tax-free distributions for qualifying educational expenses, which include tuition, fees, room and board (with limitations), required books and supplies, computers and related equipment at any accredited college, university or vocational school. If you make a distribution from your 529 plan that does not meet the criteria for qualified educational expenses, you may be required to pay income tax as well as a 10 percent early-distribution penalty on the investment gains.

One of the best things about a 529 college savings plan is that anyone — parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends — can open an account. You even can set one up for yourself to finish or pursue your own undergraduate or graduate degree.

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Learning the ABCs of 529s

You may be surprised at how little it takes to start a 529 savings plan. Most have low minimum start-up requirements. After the initial contribution, you also may be able to set up scheduled contributions. Not only can you as the account owner contribute funds, but other relatives and friends may as well. Unlike IRAs or 401(k) plans, there is no annual contribution limit for 529 plans. However, you may incur gift taxes if you exceed a certain amount. The money you invest can add up to a substantial quantity over time. However, 529 plans do have maximum accumulation limits, which vary by state, but some are more than $300,000. Keep in mind that this investment will fluctuate with changes in market conditions and may lose value.

Investing in a 529 plan improves your child's chances for financial aid because these funds are viewed as assets of the parent, not the student. And as the account holder, you remain in control of the investment. Beneficiaries cannot independently access this money on their own.
Learn More About 529 College Savings Plan

A 529 college savings plan is a tax-advantaged way to save for higher education. Money from a 529 can be used to pay for tuition, books, and supplies at any accredited college, university, or vocational school. You may be surprised at how little it takes to start a 529 college savings plan.

Facts on Saving for College

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

The average 2016-2017 tuition increase was 3.5% at private colleges. The average sticker price for a public 4-year in-state college is $24,930. (source: 2017 College Board Trends)

In 2015, young adults with a Bachelor’s Degree earned 64% more than young adults with a High School Diploma - $49,000 vs. $30,000 (source: “Annual Earnings of Young Adults, National Center for Education Statistics, April 2017)

Funding a higher education. Are you ready?

Talk to one our Financial Representatives for options available to you.

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Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in a 529 savings plan. This and other important information is contained in the Issuers Program Description which can be obtained from a financial professional. The Program Description should be read carefully before investing.

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