SHORTCUTS

529 Plan Details:

Enter your state:

World's Simplest College Calculator:

How old is your child?

Find a 529 Pro:

Enter your zip code:

Enroll In a 529 Plan:

View a list of participating plans

OPTIONS

COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

Saving For College: Start to Finish
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/saving_for_college_start_to_finish

Posted 2012-04-10 Updated 2016-05-20

Step 1: Learn about 529 college savings plans

If you have a child who is high school age or younger, you should be saving for his or her future college expenses if at all possible. Although there are several different savings vehicles available to you, most American families should be looking to 529 plans for the bulk of their college savings.

But before you can make a decision about which particular 529 plan to use, you need to do your homework (or else find a financial professional to help you). Researching 529 plans can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately for you, Savingforcollege.com offers a number of useful resources to help you through this process.

Start with the basics:

  1. Savingforcollege.com website: Simply browsing though the site can help you get started on learning about 529 plans. A good place to begin is the "college savings 101" section. You can also access a wide variety of articles covering everything from college-savings basics to investment performance rankings of 529 plans. The Message Board gives you an opportunity to ask your own question or read the questions and answers from others.

  2. Family Guide to College Savings: This easy-to-read book is another great place to gain an understanding of the process of saving for college. It not only contains essential information concerning 529 plans, but also discusses other college savings options like Coverdell ESAs and Uniform Transfers to Minors Accounts, and provides an explanation of the financial aid process, legal considerations, and personal budgeting. A portion of the guide is reproduced on Savingforcollege.com as the "College Savings Tutorial" and FOR A LIMITED PERIOD the entire Guide can be downloaded for free.

  3. The Best Way to Save For College--A Complete Guide to 529 Plans: Our "bible" provides an in-depth look at all things related to college savings and 529 plans. It explains just about everything a potential investor, financial planner, or tax professional might want to know, including plan qualification requirements, income and estate tax rules, financial-aid implications, and competing vehicles. Also, details of each state's 529 plan are included in the second section of the book.

Compare 529 plans

Once you feel more knowledgeable about 529 plans and have an idea of the features you are looking for, you can begin the process of comparing the plans in each state to determine the best one for you. The "Compare 529 Plans" tool allows you to view and compare all the features of up to six 529 plans at a time. This way, you can see how your own state's 529 plan stacks up against plans in other states. If you have a specific idea of what features you want to have in your 529 plan, you can also choose to compare 529 plans by feature to find out which college savings programs will best cater to your wishes.

Step 2: Enroll with a 529 plan

You've done all your homework, and you've found the 529 plan that will best suit your needs. Now what? Time to enroll with the plan so that you can begin investing your money. You can complete this task in several ways:

  • Enroll directly with the 529 plan: All direct-sold 529 plans have websites that you can use to create your new 529 college savings account. In many cases, you can enroll directly on the website, or you may have to download the required paperwork and submit it.

  • Enroll through savingforcollege.com: Use our website to be provided with easy enrollment access to any of the 529 plans in our Enroll Now program. Enrolling with this service is free.

  • Enroll through a financial advisor: Broker-sold 529 college savings plans are those that you can only enroll in by using a financial advisor. Enrolling in a 529 plan this way allows you to receive advice and expertise of an investment professional. If you need help finding a 529-savvy financial advisor in your area, visit our Find A 529 Pro directory.

Step 3: Maximize your college savings

Now that you've got your 529 savings account set up, you'll want to make sure you take every measure to fill it up with funds. Besides making regular contributions to your account, there are some great programs available that add to your college savings while making regular purchases, such as the transactions you make at the grocery store, online, shopping, or even going out to dinner.

Upromise Rewards:

  • Create a free Upromise account at upromise.com
  • You can link your Upromise account to a 529 savings account, the earnings will automatically be transferred into the 529 account on a periodic basis - you're saving for college without even thinking about it!
  • Shop online through Upromise's 850+ retail partners and get up to 5% cash back on every purchase
  • Maximize your cash back by using the Upromise MasterCard® and earn an additional 5% cash back on eligible Upromise.com purchases and dining at participating Upromise restaurants.
  • You can also register your credit cards and all participating grocery and drug store loyalty cards so that you get your Upromise earnings automatically when you shop in-store
  • Eating out at 10,000+ partner restaurants will also earn 5% cash back when you pay with one of your registered credit cards.
  • Invite friends and family, especially grandparents, to create Upromise accounts as well and link the accounts together so all earnings are deposited into your account for even more savings for your child.

Sage Scholars Rewards:

  • Earn scholarships up to one year's tuition when you save or invest with one of Sage Scholars' investment partners.
  • You will earn tuition rewards based on the value of your investments - each reward point is equal to a $1.00 scholarship at any of the participating private colleges and universities.

Open a college savings credit card

  • The Fidelity 529 College Rewards Card
    • 2% of purchases is deposited into your Fidelity 529 account.
  • The Upromise MasterCard®
    • Get an additional 5% on top of the cash back you already get when you shop, dine, and travel through eligible Upromise partners
    • Earn 2% cash back on eligible in-store department store and movie theater purchases
    • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
    • All rewards are deposited directly to your Upromise account, which can be linked to your 529 plan
  • The Bright Directions 529 College Savings Rewards Card
    • Earn 1.529% on your everyday purchases.
    • Each quarter, once you've accumulated $50 or more in rewards, the funds will be automatically invested into your designated Bright Directions account.
    • Friends and family that have a Bright Directions 529 Savings Rewards Card can also earn awards to be deposited into your account.
  • CollegeCounts 529 Rewards Visa Card
    • If you are enrolled in the Alabama College Counts 529 Plan, you can earn 1.529% of all purchases with this card.
    • Once $50 or more is accumulated, funds will automatically be invested into your account.

Step 1: Learn about 529 college savings plans

If you have a child who is high school age or younger, you should be saving for his or her future college expenses if at all possible. Although there are several different savings vehicles available to you, most American families should be looking to 529 plans for the bulk of their college savings.

But before you can make a decision about which particular 529 plan to use, you need to do your homework (or else find a financial professional to help you). Researching 529 plans can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately for you, Savingforcollege.com offers a number of useful resources to help you through this process.

Start with the basics:

  1. Savingforcollege.com website: Simply browsing though the site can help you get started on learning about 529 plans. A good place to begin is the "college savings 101" section. You can also access a wide variety of articles covering everything from college-savings basics to investment performance rankings of 529 plans. The Message Board gives you an opportunity to ask your own question or read the questions and answers from others.

  2. Family Guide to College Savings: This easy-to-read book is another great place to gain an understanding of the process of saving for college. It not only contains essential information concerning 529 plans, but also discusses other college savings options like Coverdell ESAs and Uniform Transfers to Minors Accounts, and provides an explanation of the financial aid process, legal considerations, and personal budgeting. A portion of the guide is reproduced on Savingforcollege.com as the "College Savings Tutorial" and FOR A LIMITED PERIOD the entire Guide can be downloaded for free.

  3. The Best Way to Save For College--A Complete Guide to 529 Plans: Our "bible" provides an in-depth look at all things related to college savings and 529 plans. It explains just about everything a potential investor, financial planner, or tax professional might want to know, including plan qualification requirements, income and estate tax rules, financial-aid implications, and competing vehicles. Also, details of each state's 529 plan are included in the second section of the book.

Compare 529 plans

Once you feel more knowledgeable about 529 plans and have an idea of the features you are looking for, you can begin the process of comparing the plans in each state to determine the best one for you. The "Compare 529 Plans" tool allows you to view and compare all the features of up to six 529 plans at a time. This way, you can see how your own state's 529 plan stacks up against plans in other states. If you have a specific idea of what features you want to have in your 529 plan, you can also choose to compare 529 plans by feature to find out which college savings programs will best cater to your wishes.

Unlock Article Printing

Join our FREE College Savings Newsletter and unlock print-access to hundreds of articles.

Email Address

Unlock Printing
More Featured Articles
 
page loadtime mark

Advertisement


close