Are there Time or Age Limits on 529 Plans and Financial Aid?

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Mark Kantrowitz

By Mark Kantrowitz

July 28, 2023

Although there are no time or age limits on contributing to or using a 529 college savings plan, other types of financial aid do expire.

Time and Age Limits on 529 College Savings Plans

There are no time or age limits on using a state 529 college savings plan. Money can be kept in a 529 plan indefinitely. 529 plans can be used for graduate school, not just undergraduate school, and can be passed on to one’s children. 

There is also no age limit on contributions to a 529 plan. 

Time and Age Limits on Other College Savings Plans

Other types of college savings plans, such as prepaid tuition plans and Coverdell education savings accounts, may have time and age limits.

  • Several prepaid tuition plans have time limits on the use of the tuition benefits. In Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Texas, Washington and West Virginia, the prepaid tuition plan must be used within 10 years of the beneficiary’s projected college entrance date, excluding time spent serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. In Michigan, the expiration occurs within 15 years. In Mississippi, 8 years. In Virginia, 30 years. 
  • Investors in the Private College 529 Plan must use their tuition certificates within 30 years.
  • A few prepaid tuition plans have age limits, including Nevada (age 30), Ohio (age 28 unless still in college), and South Carolina (age 30, with extensions of up to 4 years for military service).
  • Coverdell Education Savings Accounts must be used within 30 days after the beneficiary reaches age 30, unless the beneficiary is a special needs beneficiary.
  • ABLE accounts are limited to beneficiaries who become disabled before age 26. Beginning in 2026, this will be expanded to include beneficiaries who become disabled before age 46.

Time and Age Limits on Military Student Aid

Some military student aid programs do expire.

  • Montgomery G.I. Bill education benefits expire within 10 years after separation from active duty service.
  • Post-9/11 G.I. Bill education benefits expire within 15 years after separation from active duty service for servicemembers whose service ended in 2012 or an earlier year. The benefits do not expire for servicemembers whose service ended in 2013 or a later year.

Time and Age Limits on Federal Student Financial Aid

There are no time or age limits on federal student aid. Some types of financial aid are limited to a first Bachelor’s degree. This includes the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Teacher Education Assistance and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant). Federal student loans are available to students who already have a Bachelor’s degree, but do have annual and aggregate loan limits. Federal Work-Study (FWS) is also available to students who have a Bachelor’s degree.

In addition, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) considers a student to be an independent student if they will be 24 years old or older as of December 31 of the academic year for which financial aid is sought. This usually results in more financial aid for the student, since parental information is no longer requires on the student’s FAFSA.

Use our Financial Aid Calculator to estimate your financial need.

Time and Age Limits on Other Types of Student Financial Aid

The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is limited to four years of postsecondary education and four tax years. Other than that, there are no time limits on use of the AOTC. The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit (LLTC) has no age restrictions and can be used indefinitely, so long as the taxpayer has qualified tuition and related expenses. 

Some private scholarships are restricted to dependent students (e.g., under age 24). Others are limited to older students, such as displaced homemakers seeking a college degree (e.g., age 30 or older). Most scholarships, however, do not have age limits.

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