Some 529 college savings plans make it easier for families to give the gift of college than others.
Finding gifting information
It can be challenging to find information about how to give a gift on some 529 plan websites. This can make it more difficult for friends and family to contribute to a child’s 529 plan.
The best 529 plan websites prominently display the word “Gift” or “Gifts” or “Give a Gift” or “Gift an Education” or “Grandparents & Gifting” in the top navigation on the web site. These include 529 plans in 18 states, including 529 plans that are managed by College Savings Bank, Merrill Lynch and TIAA.
Other websites hide the link to information about gifting in a pull-down menu or in the body of the web page.
Some 529 plan web sites, however, have no links from the front door of the web site to a page with details about how to give a gift. These include plans in 25 states, including plans managed by Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard.
How to give a gift
Most 529 plans will accept a check payable to the plan, with the name of the account owner, name of the beneficiary and the account number. Many have a deposit slip or coupon that you can download from the plan’s website.
Some 529 plans partner with third party tools to make it easier to give a gift to a student’s 529 college savings plan.
- Ugift529.com. After the account owner registers with Ugift529.com, a Ugift code is created for each 529 plan. The account owner shares with Ugift code with friends and family to make it easier for them to give the gift of college by contributing to the child’s 529 plan. Ugift is available only to account owners who are invested in a 529 college savings plan administered by Ascensus College Savings, including Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C. Ugift is also available in Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia. There is no fee for contributing money to a 529 plan through Ugift.
- GiftofCollege.com. Friends and family may buy gift of college gift cards in denominations of $25 to $200. These cards may be mailed to the beneficiary, who can redeem them online and have the funds transferred to participating 529 plans. Participating 529 plans include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Montana, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.
- GoTuition Gifting Portal. Account owners can use the GoTuition Gifting Portal to create a personalized profile page with a custom URL for friends and family who want to contribute money into the beneficiary’s 529 college savings plan account. The GoTuition Gifting Portal is available on 529 plans managed by T. Rowe Price, including Alaska and Maryland.
Free certificates and cards
Most 529 plans offer free downloadable certificates and cards in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format that you can print on your computer. Some sell printed cards and envelopes. These can be mailed to the child to announce the contribution to the child’s 529 plan.
Ugift also has downloadable certificates available on its web site.
The downloadable certificates and cards celebrate various occasions, such as baby showers, birthdays, holidays and graduation.