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COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

9 college savings tips to start the year off right
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/9-college-savings-tips-to-start-the-year-off-right-706

Updated: 2016-12-22

by Kathryn Flynn

Is saving for college is on your 2017 to-do list? Whether you’re just getting started or staying on track, the following slideshow offers tips to help you meet your goals.

If You Already Have a 529 Plan:

Target

1. Check to make sure you’re hitting your savings targets

       
  • Are you aiming to put away a certain amount each month?
  •    
  • Do you have a total dollar amount you want to save over time?
  •      
  • If you’re not hitting your targets, what adjustments should be made for 2017?

World’s simplest college cost calculator

Household goals

2. Update your goal if there’s been any major changes in your household

       
  • If you’ve moved out of state, should you change 529 plans to take advantage of potential state tax breaks?
  •    
  • If you welcomed a new family member, should you open another 529 plan?
  •    
  • Has your household income changed due to a job loss or promotion? If so, think about whether your current contribution amounts still make sense.
 

When should you switch 529 plans?

compare performance

3. Review your plan’s performance

       
  • You can look up the performance of your investment option on your 529 plan’s website or in the quarterly report.
  •      
  • How does the growth of your 529 plan look compared to the growth of your retirement account (net of fees) over the same time period?
  •    
  • Check Savingforcollege.com’s quarterly performance rankings to see where your plan stacks up against other 529 plans.

5 ways to judge your 529 plan’s performance

Wheel chair

4. Decide if you need to make an investment change

       
  • In December 2014 President Obama signed the ABLE Act into law, which allows disabled Americans to take advantage of tax-deferred savings for education, housing and other expenses related to living with a disability.
  •    
  • The Act has also made a change to traditional 529 college savings plans that allows for twice-yearly investment changes (the limit was previously one change per year).
  •    
  • If your investment objectives have changed or your current portfolio is underperforming you have two opportunities to make a change this year.

How to select the best investments for your 529 plan

If You Don’t Have a 529 Plan Yet:

Set a goal

5. Set a savings goal

       
  • Consider the age of the beneficiary and when the first tuition bill will be due. Remember you can continue to save while attending college so you won’t need the full amount all at once.
  •    
  • Think about public vs. private and in state vs. out-of-state colleges – this can make a big difference in the total amount you need to save.
  •    
  • Will there be any other sources of funds to pay for college? Grandparents, financial aid, scholarships?

4 ways families are tackling high college costs

homework

6. Do your homework - research 529 plans

       
  • Check out your home state’s plan first to see if any tax breaks are offered for residents.
  •      
  • Remember that fees and expenses, as well as investment options, can vary among 529 plans.
  •      
  • Savingforcollege.com offers a helpful tool that lets you compare plans by different features.

5 simple steps to enrolling in a 529 plan

enroll now

7. Enroll in your plan

       
  • 529 accounts can be opened directly through the plan’s website or through a financial advisor.
  •    
  • You’ll likely pay a sales charge if you invest in an advisor-sold plan, but you may benefit from working with a professional.
  •    
  • If you’re comfortable selecting a plan on your own, visit your plan’s detail page on Savingforcollege.com for more information on how you can enroll.

7 myths and realities of 529 plans

It is easy

8. Set it and forget it

       
  • Most 529 plans can be linked to your checking account for automatic recurring investments.
  •      
  • Minimum initial contributions are sometimes as little as $15 or $25.
  •    
  • Some plans also offer automatic payroll deduction as another way to simplify saving.

It pays to start saving: 5 ways to get started now

email call out

9. Try the College Savings Planner!

       
  • Whether you’re looking to open your first 529 plan or you’ve been saving for years, the free College Savings Planner (“CSP”) can help.
  •    
  • The CSP features interactive charts and graphics to show users how different decisions can impact their goals.
  •      
  • Set realistic goals based on your school choice and find the best plan for your family’s needs.

Introducing the new College Savings Planner

Originally Posted: 2015-01-07

Is saving for college is on your 2017 to-do list? Whether you’re just getting started or staying on track, the following slideshow offers tips to help you meet your goals.

If You Already Have a 529 Plan:

Target

1. Check to make sure you’re hitting your savings targets

       
  • Are you aiming to put away a certain amount each month?
  •    
  • Do you have a total dollar amount you want to save over time?
  •      
  • If you’re not hitting your targets, what adjustments should be made for 2017?

World’s simplest college cost calculator

Household goals

2. Update your goal if there’s been any major changes in your household

       
  • If you’ve moved out of state, should you change 529 plans to take advantage of potential state tax breaks?
  •    
  • If you welcomed a new family member, should you open another 529 plan?
  •    
  • Has your household income changed due to a job loss or promotion? If so, think about whether your current contribution amounts still make sense.
 

When should you switch 529 plans?

compare performance

3. Review your plan’s performance

       
  • You can look up the performance of your investment option on your 529 plan’s website or in the quarterly report.
  •      
  • How does the growth of your 529 plan look compared to the growth of your retirement account (net of fees) over the same time period?
  •    
  • Check Savingforcollege.com’s quarterly performance rankings to see where your plan stacks up against other 529 plans.

5 ways to judge your 529 plan’s performance

Wheel chair

4. Decide if you need to make an investment change

       
  • In December 2014 President Obama signed the ABLE Act into law, which allows disabled Americans to take advantage of tax-deferred savings for education, housing and other expenses related to living with a disability.
  •    
  • The Act has also made a change to traditional 529 college savings plans that allows for twice-yearly investment changes (the limit was previously one change per year).
  •    
  • If your investment objectives have changed or your current portfolio is underperforming you have two opportunities to make a change this year.

How to select the best investments for your 529 plan

If You Don’t Have a 529 Plan Yet:

Set a goal

5. Set a savings goal

       
  • Consider the age of the beneficiary and when the first tuition bill will be due. Remember you can continue to save while attending college so you won’t need the full amount all at once.
  •    
  • Think about public vs. private and in state vs. out-of-state colleges – this can make a big difference in the total amount you need to save.
  •    
  • Will there be any other sources of funds to pay for college? Grandparents, financial aid, scholarships?

4 ways families are tackling high college costs

homework

6. Do your homework - research 529 plans

       
  • Check out your home state’s plan first to see if any tax breaks are offered for residents.
  •      
  • Remember that fees and expenses, as well as investment options, can vary among 529 plans.
  •      
  • Savingforcollege.com offers a helpful tool that lets you compare plans by different features.

5 simple steps to enrolling in a 529 plan

enroll now

7. Enroll in your plan

       
  • 529 accounts can be opened directly through the plan’s website or through a financial advisor.
  •    
  • You’ll likely pay a sales charge if you invest in an advisor-sold plan, but you may benefit from working with a professional.
  •    
  • If you’re comfortable selecting a plan on your own, visit your plan’s detail page on Savingforcollege.com for more information on how you can enroll.

7 myths and realities of 529 plans

It is easy

8. Set it and forget it

       
  • Most 529 plans can be linked to your checking account for automatic recurring investments.
  •      
  • Minimum initial contributions are sometimes as little as $15 or $25.
  •    
  • Some plans also offer automatic payroll deduction as another way to simplify saving.

It pays to start saving: 5 ways to get started now

email call out

9. Try the College Savings Planner!

       
  • Whether you’re looking to open your first 529 plan or you’ve been saving for years, the free College Savings Planner (“CSP”) can help.
  •    
  • The CSP features interactive charts and graphics to show users how different decisions can impact their goals.
  •      
  • Set realistic goals based on your school choice and find the best plan for your family’s needs.

Introducing the new College Savings Planner

Originally Posted: 2015-01-07

 

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