How Much to Save for a Massachusetts College

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Kathryn Flynn

By Kathryn Flynn

November 13, 2019

Although Massachusetts is one of the smallest states in the U.S., it is home to over 80 colleges and universities. Many of the state’s most well-known colleges currently cost over $20,000 a year. The actual amount parents should save to send their child to a Massachusetts college depends on their child’s age and the specific college they are saving for.

Parents can get a head start on saving for college by opening a MEFA U. Fund account, which is a 529 college savings plan that offers special tax incentives for Massachusetts residents.

Costs of popular colleges in Massachusetts

When comparing college costs, it’s important to look at the college’s net price. A college’s net price is what a student has to pay for out of pocket after grants, scholarships, tuition waivers and other gift aid during the current academic year. The federal government requires every college to have a net price calculator on their website to give students a personalized estimate of their college costs.

The following table includes the average current net price per student at 17 of Massachusetts’s most popular colleges.


Net Price

Amherst College



Babson College



Berklee College of Music



Boston College



Boston University



Brandeis University



Emerson College



Harvard University



Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Northeastern University



Simmons University



Smith College



Tufts University



University of Massachusetts- Amherst



Wellesley College



Williams College



Worcester Polytechnic Institute



Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2017-2018 data

How much to save for a Massachusetts college

A family’s college savings goal should depend on their child’s age and the type of college they will attend. For example, in 17 years families will pay around $200,000 to attend a 4-year college that costs $20,000 per year today, based on 5% annual tuition inflation. The total costs to attend a 4-year college that costs $30,000 per year today are projected to be around $300,000.

However, families don’t have to save 100% of their future college costs. Experts recommend saving one-third of projected costs and covering the remaining two-thirds with current income and student loans. Total student loan debt should be less than the student’s starting salary after college.

Parents can save one-third of $200,000 over 17 years by contributing $188 each month to a 529 college savings plan. If parents are aiming to save one-third of $300,000 they would increase 529 plan contributions to $282 per month.

Using a 529 plan to pay for college in Massachusetts

One way parents can get a head start on saving for a Massachusetts college is to open a MEFA U.Fund account. Investments in MEFA’s U. Fund grow on a tax-deferred basis and are exempt from federal and state income tax when distributions are used to pay for qualified education expenses. This includes college tuition, books, supplies, equipment and up to $10,000 per year in K-12 tuition.

Massachusetts also offers a state income tax incentive for residents who invest in MEFA’s U. Fund. Annual contributions up to $1,000 ($2,000 if married filing jointly) to a Massachusetts 529 plan are deductible from state income tax. The tax savings can be reinvested and will compound over time to help families reach their savings goal faster. 

MEFA’s U. Fund offers competitive fees, with expense ratios ranging from 0.11% – 1.13% based on the investment options selected. Massachusetts babies born or adopted after January 1, 2020 receive a $50 seed contribution to a MEFA U. Fund account.

Parents, grandparents and anyone saving for future education costs can open a MEFA U. Fund account online, or by clicking the ENROLL NOW button.

A good place to start:

See the best 529 plans, personalized for you