Featured Articles

Check out the Hot Topics we have covered recently.

Transferring Colleges? Check these Items off Your List First

Making the decision to transfer colleges is one that college students shouldn’t take lightly. Consider that all of your credits may not transfer, financial aid does not transfer and when you transfer matters. But, students who successfully transfer are more likely to graduate.

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An Insider’s Guide to College Merit Scholarships

Scholarships and non-need-based grants are a great way to curb college costs, but getting merit aid isn’t easy. Merit scholarships are awarded to high-achieving students. But, it’s not just about academics, although high grades and admissions test scores are a significant factor in the merit scholarship calculus. Other important attributes include demonstrating strong leadership qualities, volunteering and superior abilities in a specific area.

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Can you pay for dual enrollment classes with a 529 plan?

Students may use a 529 plan to pay for dual enrollment tuition and fees at an eligible institution. However, 529 plan distributions used to pay for other dual enrollment expenses, such as books and supplies, are considered non-qualified.

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Refinancing with a State Education Lender

Some borrowers can lower their interest payments and simplify their finances by refinancing their federal and private student loans with a state education lender. State agencies and state chartered non-profit corporations have a funding advantage that enables them to make loans with lower interest rates than commercial lenders.

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Taking a Semester Off? Make These Moves with Your Student Loans

Taking a semester off from college doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it can be if you don’t handle the financial side of the equation correctly. When you drop below half-time enrollment, your student loans start using up the grace period before repayment begins. Interest on unsubsidized and private student loans will be charged.

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529 Plans Remain a Mystery for Most Americans

A new study from Edward Jones revealed that Americans lack knowledge about the features and tax benefits offered by 529 plans. Few parents ranked saving for college as a top financial goal and 36% do not save for college at all.

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Are Lavish Facilities Responsible for Tuition Inflation?

Pundits try to pin the cause of tuition inflation on various factors, such as the increasing availability of student loans, reductions in state funding, rising numbers of highly paid administrators, and increases in enrollment. A pet theory in the popular press blames investment in lavish recreational facilities and luxury dormitories. Contributing factors include tuition discounting, technology and economic change, and regulatory costs. But, no single factor fully accounts for tuition inflation.

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How to Have the College Money Talk with your Children

If parents don’t talk to their children about college affordability and student loans, who will? Talking to your children about paying for college and student loans can be an uncomfortable subject. Parents sometimes struggle to have these conversations with their children. However, it’s best that your children hear about these topics from you first, rather than learn the hard lessons that come with enrolling at a high-cost college and borrowing too much money.

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Hidden College Costs

Not all college costs appear on the college bill, which is often limited to tuition and required fees. Sometimes room and board will be included, if the student is living in campus housing. But, hidden college costs can add hundreds or thousands of dollars of unanticipated expenses each year. Most students should budget for an additional $300 to $500 per month for extra costs.

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Are Custodial Accounts a Good Option for Parents Saving for College?

Custodial savings accounts are getting a closer look from parents saving for college, with about 2 percent of parents using them to save for college. They work just like bank savings accounts and anyone in (or out) of the family can contribute to custodial accounts for college, among other benefits. Recent changes in the tax treatment of custodial accounts have reduced the financial benefits of saving for college in a custodial account.

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How to Get Friends and Family to Pitch in on College Savings

For many parents, convincing friends and family to give the gift of college stills feels a bit awkward. These tips will give you a few ideas on how to get friends and family to pitch in and help grow the dollars in your child’s college fund. Birthdays, baby showers, graduations and major holidays all present an opportunity to get a gift with a long-term impact on the child's future instead of the usual wrapping paper and cardboard boxes.

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Tax Rates on Scholarships Triple

Scholarships used to pay for tuition and textbooks are tax-free, but scholarships used to pay for other expenses, such as room and board, are treated as taxable income to the recipient. A change in the Kiddie Tax enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, however, triples the tax rates on such scholarships.

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Are Scholarships Taxable?

Scholarships used to pay for tuition and textbooks are generally tax-free, while scholarship amounts used to pay for other college costs, such as housing, meal plans and transportation, are taxable. The student must also be a degree candidate for the scholarships to be excluded from income. The scholarship also cannot be fee for services, with a few exceptions.

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FDIC-insured 529 plans (2019 edition)

Savingforcollege.com has published an update of FDIC-insured and NCUA-insured products in the marketplace for 2019. The report, first published in 2017, compares the federally-insured investment options offered by 529 college savings plans.

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Can You Rollover Funds from a 529 Plan to a Coverdell ESA?

You cannot rollover funds from a 529 Plan to a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA). However, Coverdell ESAs allow tax-free outbound rollovers to other Coverdell ESAs and to 529 plans with the same beneficiary or a beneficiary who is a family member of the current beneficiary.

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Interest Rates on Federal Student Loans Drop for 2019-2020

Interest rates on federal student loans decrease by a bit more than half a percentage point for new loans made on or after July 1, 2019. The new interest rates are 4.529% for Federal Stafford loans for undergraduate students, 6.079% for Federal Stafford loans for graduate students and 7.079% for Federal PLUS loans.

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Avoid these 8 Mistakes When Opening a New 529 Plan Account

Parents should carefully consider all of their options when setting up a new 529 plan account to save for college. Making the wrong decision can be costly and detrimental to a family’s college savings. Here are six common mistakes to avoid when opening a new 529 plan.

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18 States Offer FDIC-Insured 529 Plan Options

18 states offer 529 plan options that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), including high yield savings accounts and bank certificates of deposit (CDs). FDIC-insured investments are suitable for families who want to preserve capital in their 529 plan without taking on excess risk.

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Senator Marco Rubio Proposes a New Type of Federal Student Loan

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) proposes to replace interest with a fixed financing fee that is added to the loan balance. The financing fees will be 25% for Federal Direct Stafford Loans and 38% for Federal Direct PLUS Loans. Financing fees may be easier for borrowers to understand than level amortization of traditional student loans.

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When to consider a Coverdell ESA to 529 plan rollover

Up until recently, the Coverdell ESA was the only tax-advantaged account designed to save for elementary and high school expenses. But the signing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017 expanded the definition of 529 plan qualified higher education expenses to include $10,000 per year in K-12 tuition, giving families another option.

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The Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax and 529 Plan Contributions

The Generation-Skipping Transfer tax (GST) is a federal tax on 529 plan contributions and other property transferred to a beneficiary who is at least 37 ½ years younger than the donor. Since the GST was introduced in 1976, wealthy grandparents can no longer avoid taxation by “skipping” their own children and leaving inheritance directly to their grandchildren.

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College Savings Makeovers

College is a major expense, and families without a plan for their children could risk jeopardizing their retirement and future financial independence. New parents, parents of high school students and grandparents all turn to financial advisors for help with college planning.

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When Is a Federal Consolidation Loan a Good Idea?

Consolidating several federal student loans into a single Federal Direct Consolidation Loan may help student loan borrowers lower their monthly loan payments and simplify their finances. Consolidation also provides parent borrowers with access to income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness options. But, consolidation resets the clock on Public Service Loan Forgiveness to zero and prevents borrowers from targeting the highest-rate loans for quicker repayment.

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How to choose a 529 plan

With so many 529 plans to choose from, we know that getting started can be a little overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Here's how to find the best 529 plan in four easy steps.

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Do Student Loans Cause Graduates to Boomerang?

Millennials have been dubbed the “boomerang generation.” After moving out of their parents’ homes and enjoying a period of independence, they move right back in. This has been attributed to everything from the enduring consequences of the Great Recession to shifting social mores to student loans. However, student loan debt does not appear to be among the primary factors driving Millennials back to the nest.

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Private Parent Loans

Even when parents save for college, sometimes the college savings and financial aid falls short of covering the college’s net price. Some parents borrow private parent loans to close the funding gap and ensure that their son or daughter has the funding needed for another year on campus. Private parent loans are like private student loans, but with the parent as the sole borrower.

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Automatic Investing in a 529 Plan

Automatic investing in a 529 plan is a proven strategy to help families save more for college. Families who have to remember to make a 529 plan contribution each month are likely to forget and miss out on potential tax-free earnings growth. Investors will also benefit from dollar-cost averaging.

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Tuition and Fees Deduction

The Tuition and Fees Deduction allows eligible taxpayers to deduct up to $4,000 from taxable income to help cover higher education costs for themselves, a spouse and dependent children. The Tuition and Fees Deduction expired at the end of 2016 but was renewed for the 2017 tax year with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

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When is a State Tax Break Better than Lower Fees on a 529 Plan?

Sometimes, an out-of-state 529 plan may provide a better financial value than an in-state 529 plan. When saving for college, always consider your own state’s 529 college savings plan, if the state offers a state income tax deduction or tax credit based on contributions to the state’s 529 college savings plan. But, an out-of-state 529 plan may offer lower fees. Which option saves more money?

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The best 529 plans: 5-Cap Ratings

The Savingforcollege.com 5-Cap Ratings provide an independent and objective evaluation of direct-sold and advisor-sold 529 plans. The 5-cap ratings, updated quarterly, help consumers consider their college savings options and choose the best 529 plans. We are pleased to share the top rated plans from our latest quarterly analysis.

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An Alternative to 529 Plan Superfunding

Superfunding a 529 plan can help jump-start a child’s college savings while sheltering a large amount of assets from the donor’s taxable estate. However, wealthy grandparents may be able to make a larger tax-free gift by using up part of their lifetime gift and estate tax exemption.

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Who is a Member of the Family of a 529 Plan Beneficiary?

A 529 plan account owner may change the beneficiary at any time without tax consequences when the new beneficiary is a family member of the current beneficiary. The IRS provides a broad definition of family member, which includes the beneficiary’s blood relatives and relatives by marriage and adoption.

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Celebrate 529 College Savings Day

Many states are promoting May 29 (5/29) as a day with special meaning, and are looking to boost interest and participation in their 529 savings programs with various sweepstakes, contests and incentives.

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How to Open a 529 Plan

This step-by-step guide to opening a 529 college savings plan makes the process easier for parents and grandparents to save for college.

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When You Should Not Change Your 529 Plan Beneficiary

529 plans offer the flexibility to change the beneficiary to a qualifying member of the current beneficiary’s family without tax consequences. However, in some cases changing the beneficiary is not necessary to maximize tax consequences. Here are situations when you should consider keeping your current 529 plan beneficiary.

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How to Choose a College

The deadline for accepting a college’s offer of admission is May 1, otherwise known as Decision Day or the National Candidate’s Reply Date. With just a few weeks before the deadline, how do you decide which college admissions offer to accept?

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Is the Forgiveness of All Student Loans Feasible?

Wouldn’t it be great if student loan debt could just be wiped out? Proponents argue that student loan forgiveness would simultaneously assist debtors and stimulate the economy. Opponents contend that these figures are flawed and inflated, offering little real public policy benefits. Increasing Federal Pell Grant funding would do more to increase college access and success, reducing student debt long-term.

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FAFSA deadlines

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application for financial aid from the federal government,state government and most colleges. The FAFSA application season officially starts on October 1. Students should file the FAFSA ASAP to maximize the amount of financial aid for which they are eligible.

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How much is your state's 529 plan tax deduction really worth?

In addition to federal tax benefits, many states offer full or partial state tax deductions for contributions to a 529 plan. Over 30 states, including the District of Columbia have such incentives available.

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Why You Should Change Your 529 Plan Beneficiary

Families may change the beneficiary on a 529 plan to a qualifying member of the family of the current beneficiary at any time without tax consequences. This flexibility may help families avoid paying taxes and penalties on unused 529 plan funds and can be used as a strategy to avoid limitations around 529 plan rollovers and investment options. Here are several reasons why a family might consider changing their 529 plan beneficiary.

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Get Aggressive about College Savings

If you think the price of college is astronomical today, wait to you hear about the cost of a college education 20 years from now. To ensure that you can afford to pay for a top college tomorrow, you need to get aggressive about college savings today.

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How to Change the Beneficiary on Your 529 Plan

529 plans are designed to help save for the future education costs of a single beneficiary. However, the 529 plan account owner may change the beneficiary to a qualifying family member at any time without tax consequences by completing a form on the 529 plan’s website.

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Master College Work-Study Programs with These Timely Tips

A new report states that colleges can do much better with work-study programs, especially in the area of matching up students with work-study jobs that mirror their career intentions. The report has practical implications for students who seek part-time student employment on or near campus.

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529 plans and your tax return

Tax season is well under way, and many of us have been spending the past few weeks getting our financial records in order. When you dig out last year's filing, you're relieved to see that almost everything looks the same this year. Except what about your 529 plan contributions? Do your college savings need to be reported to the IRS?

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Last-Minute Financial Aid Tips

You just got your financial aid award letter, but the financial aid package isn’t enough. What can you do to bridge the gap between the financial aid you received and the money you need to pay for college?

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How to Reduce Student Loan Stress

College graduates who have student loans are more likely to suffer from stress and depression than college students who graduate without student loan debt. Understanding the causes of student loan stress can help borrowers address these challenges and take steps to reduce their student loan stress.

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Advantages of Advisor-Sold 529 Plans

Families saving for college may choose to invest in an advisor-sold 529 plan or a direct-sold 529 plan. Direct-sold 529 plans typically have lower fees, but advisor-sold 529 plans offer unique advantages that may be worth the extra cost to some investors.

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How to Open a 529 Plan in Texas

This step-by-step guide to enrolling in Texas’s 529 college savings plans makes it easier for Texas parents and grandparents to open a 529 plan.

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How to Open a 529 Plan in Florida

This step-by-step guide to enrolling in Florida’s 529 college savings plan makes the process easier for parents and grandparents to save for college.

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Florida 529 Plan Contribution Limits

There are no annual contribution limits for Florida 529 plans, other than the annual gift tax exclusion and 5-year gift-tax averaging. Florida 529 plans have a high cumulative contribution limit of $418,000 per beneficiary.

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Texas 529 Plan Contribution Limits

There are no annual contribution limits for Texas 529 plans, other than the annual gift tax exclusion and 5-year gift-tax averaging. Texas 529 plans have a cumulative contribution limit of $370,000 per beneficiary.

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Tax Benefits of Florida 529 Plans

Florida 529 plans offer the standard federal and state tax benefits, but do not offer any special state income tax benefits on contributions to the 529 plans because Florida does not have a personal state income tax.

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Tax Benefits of Texas 529 Plans

Texas 529 plans offer the standard federal and state tax benefits, but do not offer any special state income tax benefits on contributions to the Texas College Savings Plan or Lonestar 529 Plan. Texas does not have a personal state income tax.

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Federal vs. Private Student Loans

Families have several options for financing college costs, including federal student loans, federal parent loans, private student loans and private parent loans. Most borrowers should look to federal loan programs first, as they typically have more favorable terms than those available from private lenders.

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Bill Moves Forward to Allow 529 Plans to Repay Student Loans

The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which aims to improve savings habits in the United States. The legislation proposes expanding the benefits of 529 plans, including adding student loan repayments as a qualified expense.

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The Reason Why Some Parents Do Not Save for College

Not much is known about the reasons why some parents do not save for college. But, one possibility is that nobody is periodically telling them about the need to save for college.

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Student Loans Will Follow You to the End of Time

Most types of debt, aside from child support and taxes, are subject to a statute of limitations, typically ranging from three to six years, and in some cases up to fifteen years dating from the last activity on the account in question. This means that while the debt does not disappear, creditors are prevented from winning a judgment against the debtor in court in order to collect after that period. Private student loans have a statute of limitations, but federal student loans do not.

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How to Rollover U.S. Savings Bonds into a 529 Plan

Interest on certain U.S. savings bonds is excluded from income if the savings bonds are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses or rolled over into a 529 college savings plan, prepaid tuition plan or Coverdell education savings account. The process for reporting a savings bond rollover can be a little confusing, but nevertheless is straightforward.

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Six Signs It Might Be Time to Switch 529 Plans

The 529 plan you choose can have a big impact on your ending balance when it's time to pay for college. However, a family's needs may change over time and sometimes it makes sense to switch 529 plans. Here are some of the most common reasons why a family might consider switching 529 plans.

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U.S. Department of Education Discriminates against Zombies

A review of guidance published by the U.S. Department of Education demonstrates that the U.S. Department of Education discriminates against zombies in the awarding of federal student aid funds. The guidance also uses insensitive language that offends the undead, such as repeated references to “living expenses.” This is despite the fact that some senior members of the administration may, in fact, be zombies themselves.

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The Real Deal on Student Loan Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Income-driven repayment plans can help student loan borrowers buried by burdensome debt. These repayment plans establish a more affordable student loan payment by basing the monthly loan payment on the borrower’s ability to pay, as a percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income. But, these student loan repayment plans may not work for everybody:

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How to Pay Off Your Student Loans by Age 30

This article describes several different scenarios in which a borrower can pay off their student loans by age 30. One involves total student loan debt equal to annual income. Another involves total student loan debt that significantly exceeds annual income.

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Signs a Student Loan Repayment Company Might Be a Scam

Student loan borrowers have enough on their plates without being victimized by unscrupulous student loan debt repayment firms. Whether it’s an unscrupulous debt consolidation scam or a loan services company that promises to eliminate your loans entirely, student loan borrowers need to take aggressive steps to protect themselves from financial fraudsters – who seem to be everywhere these days. Beware of companies that charge up-front fees for credit repair services.

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Are Private Student Loans Eligible for Loan Forgiveness?

With many private student loan borrowers graduating with excessive student loan debt, one of the biggest hopes these borrowers have is student loan forgiveness. However, finding loan forgiveness for private student loans can feel like a daunting task. In general, there isn’t a lot you can do if you want your private student loans forgiven. However, there are some circumstances in which a private student loan might be discharged.

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How to Compare Student Loans

Borrowers have a lot to consider when comparing student loan programs. In addition to the interest rate and fees paid on the loan, applicants need to determine whether a fixed or variable interest rate is the better option, and which repayment terms make the most sense for their circumstances. Lender flexibility and customer service may also be important, especially if the borrower encounters difficulty repaying the loan. Total payments should be considered in addition to monthly loan payments.

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How to Switch 529 Plans

Almost every state has at least one 529 plan, and each 529 plan is unique in terms of fees, underlying investments and available benefits. When a 529 plan no longer meets a family’s needs, it might make sense to switch 529 plans by rolling the funds into a new 529 plan.

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What is the Difference between Student Loan Delinquency and Default?

When a borrower fails to make payments by the due date, their student loan may be reclassified to a dreaded “d” category — delinquency or default. A student loan is delinquent if any payments are past due. If the loan installments remain past due for long enough, the student loan eventually is placed in default.

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Why Do Some Students Borrow Private Student Loans?

The majority of student loans are federal. Federal student loans are a popular option because they offer low fixed interest rates, flexible repayment, no credit check (except for PLUS loans) and loan forgiveness. Nonetheless, some students choose to borrow private student loans. Here are some reasons why.

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Federal Student Loans Provide Superior Benefits

Students should borrow federal first, because federal student loans offer superior benefits as compared with private student loans. Federal student loans are better than private student loans. Parent loans and private student loans should be considered only after the student has reached the loan limits on federal student loans.

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Lifetime Learning Tax Credit

The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit (LLTC) allows eligible taxpayers to claim an annual tax credit of up to $2,000 to help cover college and continuing education costs for themselves, a spouse or dependent children. The LLTC can be claimed once per taxpayer per year and for an unlimited number of years.

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Pitfalls of Parent Loans

After a student reaches the federal student loan limits, parents can borrow to help their children pay for college through Federal Parent PLUS loans, private parent loans and by cosigning private student loans. These borrowing options, however, come with several potential pitfalls.

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How to Withdraw Money from Your 529 Plan

Money saved in a 529 plan can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for qualified education expenses. It’s up to the 529 plan account owner to calculate the amount of the tax-free distribution and how they want to receive the funds. Withdrawal requests can usually be made on the 529 plan’s website, by telephone or by mail.

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Can You Use a 529 Plan to Pay for Trade School?

529 plans can be used to pay for postsecondary education at any eligible institution, including trade schools. Trade school programs typically take less than two years to complete, and cost significantly less than a bachelor's degree from a 4-year college.

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Don’t Count on Getting Student Loan Forgiveness

With burgeoning student debt on the minds of matriculants and graduates alike, student loan forgiveness programs offer a sliver of hope to worried borrowers. Those entering certain professions or meeting certain income requirements may qualify for forgiveness of their federal student loans after a certain period. However, many borrowers do not ultimately qualify for student loan forgiveness and the future of student loan forgiveness programs is uncertain.

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Can Mr. Rogers Help Hike 529 Plan Usage?

The College Savings Plan Network (CSPN) is teaming up with Fred Rogers Productions to promote the benefits of a 529 college savings plan. The partnership is aiming their educational campaign at two-year-old eyes locked in on the highly-watched children’s TV show “Daniel Tiger” and the parents who mind them.

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How to Fill a College Savings Gap

Even after years of saving in a 529 plan, many parents come up short when it’s time to pay for college. It may be tempting to dip into retirement savings or take out an excessive amount of student loans to fill the gap but doing so may put your (or your child’s) future financial security at risk.

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Legacy Admissions

Most of the top colleges in the United States consider an applicant’s relation to alumni in the admissions process. This approach, which may give children or relatives of alumni an advantage in the admissions process, is commonly called legacy admissions or legacy preferences. Here’s what you should know about legacy admissions, how it may affect you and why it’s a hotly debated topic in making college access a reality for more students.

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Jump-Start College Savings with a No-Spend Month

Looking for a quick way to boost your child’s college savings? Consider a no-spend month. By limiting purchases to necessities only for 30 days, parents can potentially free up hundreds of dollars to contribute to a 529 plan.

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The Biggest College Financial Aid Package May Not Be the Best One

Deciphering college financial aid letters isn’t easy. Many college financial aid award letters blend student loans, student employment, scholarships and grants together in random fashion, blurring the difference between free money and money that must be earned or repaid. Bigger isn't always better. Consider the net price, not the bigger aid offer. Appeal for more aid, if necessary.

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American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)

The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) allows eligible parents to claim an annual tax credit of up to $2,500 per student to help cover college costs. The AOTC is also available to dependent students, as long as certain income and other criteria are met. Tax-free distributions from a 529 plan are limited to qualified expenses that were not counted toward the AOTC.

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Great Questions to Ask the College Financial Aid Office

The more you know about financial aid, the better your experience will be for the next four years on campus. To clarify the college financial aid experience, let’s take a deep dive into ten questions every collegian (and his or her parents) should ask when they speak with the college’s financial aid office after receiving the college’s financial aid award letter.

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Young Americans Owe $1 Trillion in Debt, Not Just Student Loans

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York states that the U.S. 18-to-29-year-old demographic owes a total of $1 trillion in debt, as of December 31, 2018. Student loans represent the largest category of debt, at more than a third of the total.

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Income-Driven Repayment

Income-driven repayment plans base the loan payments on a percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income, as opposed to the amount owed. Generally, if a borrower's total student loan debt at graduation exceeds their annual income, they will have a lower loan payment under an income-driven repayment plan.

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Revised Pay-As-You-Earn Repayment (REPAYE)

Revised pay-as-you-earn repayment (REPAYE) is an updated version of the pay-as-you-earn repayment (PAYE) income-driven repayment plan. It eliminates the eligibility restrictions in the PAYE repayment plan. As with the PAYE plan, loan payments are based on 10 percent of discretionary income. But, loan payments are not capped at standard repayment and there is a marriage penalty. Also, the repayment term is 300 payments (25 years) instead of 240 payments (20 years) if the borrower has any graduate student loans.

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Pay-As-You-Earn Repayment (PAYE)

Pay-as-you-earn repayment (PAYE) is an income-driven repayment plan that bases student loan payments on 10 percent of the borrower’s discretionary income, which is defined as the amount by which adjusted gross income exceeds 150% of the poverty line. The remaining debt is forgiven after 240 payments (20 years). Generally, borrowers whose debt at graduation exceeds two-thirds of their annual income will have a reduced monthly payment under PAYE.

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Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

Income-based repayment (IBR) is an income-driven repayment plan that bases student loan payments on 15 percent of the borrower’s discretionary income. The remaining debt is forgiven after 300 payments (25 years). Generally, borrowers whose debt at graduation exceeds their annual income will have a reduced monthly payment under IBR.

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Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

Income-contingent repayment (ICR) was the first income-driven repayment plan. Income-driven repayment plans base student loan payments on a percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income, as opposed to the amount owed. Income-driven repayment plans are intended to be a safety net, in case the borrower graduates with too much student loan debt.

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Interest Rates on Federal Consolidation Loans

Federal consolidation loans combine two or more federal student loans into a single loan, with the interest rate based on the weighted average. This can simplify repayment of your student loans. While these loans can be helpful in some cases, it’s important to understand how interest rates on federal consolidation loans work before jumping in.

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Reporting 529 Plan Withdrawals on Your Federal Tax Return

When 529 plans are used to pay for qualified expenses there is usually nothing to report anything on your income tax return. Form 1099-Q and Form 1098-T will list the amount of the 529 plan distribution and how much was used to pay for college tuition and fees, but it is up to you to calculate the taxable portion.

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What is Discretionary Income?

Discretionary income is the income that remains after subtracting allowances for mandatory expenses, such as taxes and basic living expenses. The term discretionary income is used in connection with financial aid need analysis and income-driven repayment plans.

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The New 401(k)? Employer-Sponsored 529 Plans Shift into High Gear

Parents saving for college tend to look under every rock and couch cushion for some extra cash to cover future college costs. Now, employers are helping by providing easy access to 529 college savings plans with payroll deduction and matching contributions.

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Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

Teachers may be eligible to cancel their student debt through several different student loan forgiveness programs, including Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Learn more about these types of programs and how to qualify and apply.

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Is There a Student Loan Bubble?

At the end of 2018, outstanding student loan debt stood at $1.57 trillion according to the Federal Reserve, up from $1.0 trillion in 2012. Projections put the amount at $2.0 trillion by 2024. Such a large amount of debt raises questions as to whether there is a student loan bubble.

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The Best Tools to Help You Save for College

College is a major expense for most families. 529 plans are designed to help save for college, but many parents are confused about how they work. Fortunately, there are several tools available that help with selecting and opening a 529 plan, scheduling contributions and inviting friends and family to contribute.

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Financial Aid and Selective Service Registration: A Primer

U.S. men between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register with the Selective Service System. If they do not register, they may lose eligibility for federal and state student financial aid. Women and transgender individuals who were born female are not required to register with Selective Service.

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Changes May Be Coming for Selective Service and Financial Aid

A federal court ruling has turned the Selective Service registration requirement on its head, and that could have big ramifications for college students seeking financial aid.

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College Savings Tips for Working Parents

The cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 has risen to $233,610, not including college savings. Even households with two working parents may struggle to find room in their budget for 529 plan contributions. But, there are ways working parents can take advantage of their additional income to cover a child’s future education costs.

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How to Afford College Textbooks

For many college students, textbooks are a big part of out-of-pocket costs. According to a recent Cengage survey, buying textbooks and course materials are a top source of financial stress for students, second only to tuition expenses. Before heading to the campus bookstore, students should consider other ways to access textbooks, such as renting, borrowing or buying used editions.

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Using your 529 plan to pay for room and board

Room and board costs make up a large portion of a student’s total college bill, second only to tuition. If you’ve been saving for college in a 529 plan you can withdraw funds tax-free to pay for room and board, but only if certain requirements are met.

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States that Do Not Conform with Federal 529 Plan Tax Laws

529 plans were added to the Internal Revenue Code in 1996 to authorize federal tax-free status of qualified tuition plans. Federal tax benefits of 529 plans include tax-deferred investment growth, tax-free distributions for qualified education expenses including up to $10,000 in K-12 tuition and tax-free 529 plan rollovers. However, some states do not fully conform with the federal laws regarding qualified tuition programs.

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The Fine Art of Writing a College Scholarship Essay

College scholarships can be a valuable item – maybe the most valuable item - in your college funding toolbox. Scholarships are free money that do not need to be repaid, and come with the gift of prestige. The path to earning a scholarship is filled with lessons learned that you can apply for a lifetime.

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Alphabeticity Bias in 529 Plan Portfolio Selection

When faced with complicated decisions, such as a choice among many possible 529 plan portfolios, consumers often choose the first option listed. Since portfolios are typically listed in alphabetical order, this can lead to a preference for portfolios with names that begin with letters earlier in the alphabet, called alphabeticity bias.

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How to Pay for College without Student Loans

Student loans are designed to help college students pay for the cost of their education. But with an average student loan balance of nearly $30,000 for a Bachelor’s degree alone, it’s worth looking for other ways to pay for college.

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How to Save More for College

Many parents have trouble saving money for college. After day-to-day expenses and competing financial priorities, it may seem like there is little leftover to fund a 529 plan. But, in some cases what seems like a monetary problem is actually a psychological problem that can be fixed by changing your habits.

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5 ways to spend leftover 529 plan money

It's every parent's dream: your child gets a gigantic scholarship to college and you've got thousands of dollars leftover in your college savings account. What to do?

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What Should You Do If Your FAFSA Requires Verification?

About one in three financial aid applications are selected for verification. The family is required to verify financial records listed on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form before they can receive college financial aid.

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Emergency Student Aid Programs

Some colleges offer students money for emergencies on top of the financial aid they already receive. Knowing that emergency student aid programs exist, and how to ask for financial help, can save students hundreds of dollars or more in unforeseen costs. It can also prevent students from dropping out of college because of a relatively small but unexpected bill.

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The Complexity of Payroll Withholding for Student Loan Payments

Senator Lamar Alexander has proposed automatically deducting student loan payments from borrowers’ paychecks. This is an elegant idea that would save the federal government about $1 billion a year in collection costs. Payroll withholding of student loan payments isn’t as simple as it might seem initially, but the problems aren’t insurmountable.

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What you can pay for with a 529 plan

529 plans offer tax-free withdrawals when the funds are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses. In general, this includes costs of attending an eligible college or university. Starting January 1, 2018, this definition is expanded to include up to $10,000 in K-12 tuition expenses per beneficiary per year.

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What you can't pay for with a 529 plan

529 plans are tax-advantaged accounts designed to save for college, but the tax benefits are only available when the funds are used to pay for qualified expenses. Distributions used to pay for some college expenses are considered non-qualified and may be subject to income tax and a 10 percent penalty on the earnings portion.

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How Do Student Loans Work?

If you need money for college, you might be considering a student loan. But before you apply for one, it’s important to understand how they work.

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New Year’s Resolutions to Help Pay Off Student Loans

February is the month of lapsed New Year’s resolutions. Forget about the ones you won’t keep, and instead, focus your energy on your financial health. Several small, easy steps can build a strong foundation that will help reduce and eventually eliminate your student loan debt.

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How Parents Can Save Money on their Taxes

Raising your child from infancy and guiding them along life’s journey to prepare them for college is a commitment that takes years and thousands of dollars to sustain. Fortunately, Uncle Sam offers eligible parents a way to soften this financial hardship during tax season, including tax credits for college and tax credits for just having children.

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How Does Your State’s 529 Plan Income Tax Benefit Work?

Taxpayers in over 30 states may claim a state income tax deduction or tax credit for contributions to a 529 plan. However, each state has its own rules regarding the type of tax benefit, and the amount of 529 plan contributions eligible for a state tax deduction or credit each year. Understanding how 529 plan state income tax benefits work can help parents make an informed decision when selecting a 529 plan for their child.

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History of Student Loans: Bankruptcy Discharge

Until 1976, student loan debt could be discharged in bankruptcy proceedings. That year, largely baseless claims that student debtors were abusing the bankruptcy system led to the first restrictions on bankruptcy discharge of student loan debt. These restrictions were tightened even further in the ensuing decades. Little progress has been made in reversing them despite concern that they have unfairly biased the system against indebted college graduates.

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How Do Student Loans Affect Your Credit Scores?

Federal and private student loans are reported to the three major U.S. credit bureaus. Like any other debt, delinquencies and defaults will affect the credit history and credit scores of the borrower and the borrower's cosigner, if any. But, there are also several ways in which student loans affect credit scores differently than other types of debt.

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Don't Count on Using a 529 Plan for State Tax Breaks on K-12 Tuition

The definition of qualified higher education expenses now includes tuition at K-12 schools. However, in some states, 529 plan distributions used to pay for K-12 tuition may be taxable at the state level, and any state income tax benefits claimed may be subject to recapture.

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How Does Your Credit Score Affect Student Loan Interest Rates?

With federal student loans, everyone pays the same interest rate, regardless of their credit scores. With private student loans, on the other hand, your credit score (and the credit score of your cosigner) has a major impact on what interest rate you ultimately pay. If you have excellent credit, you may even qualify for a lower interest rate that is competitive with the fixed interest rates on federal loans.

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My Child Turned 18. Can I Still Claim a 529 State Tax Benefit?

Families who contribute to a 529 plan may be eligible for a state income tax deduction or credit, depending on where they live. A state income tax benefit may be claimed each year contributions are made, including before, during and after the beneficiary attends college.

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Are 529 Plan Contributions Tax Deductible When Used for K-12?

Contributions to a 529 plan are made with after-tax dollars, and therefore are not tax deductible at the federal level. However, some families using a 529 plan to pay for K-12 tuition may qualify for a state income tax deduction or tax credit for 529 plan contributions.

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Who Is Responsible for a Student Loan in Case of Divorce?

When a married couple gets divorced or separated, who is responsible for repaying the student loans and parent loans? The answer depends on whether the loans were borrowed before or during the marriage, whether the couple lives in a community property state, whether there is a prenuptial agreement and whether the ex-spouse cosigned the loans.

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Credit Cards for College Students

Now that your child is legally an adult and is college-bound, he or she might be eager to get their first credit card. Although credit cards have long been a hallmark of financial independence for young people, today, students under 21 face greater credit card barriers than previous generations.

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How to Automate Your Student Loan Payments

Have you ever been gripped by nausea because you suddenly remember you missed a payment? Automating your bills, especially your student loans, will help relieve your worries. Automation within the financial world is easy and protects your financial health. Auto-pay will automatically withdraw your student loan payment from your checking account. You may even save some money, along with peace of mind.

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Should You Refinance Federal Student Loans into Private Student Loans?

Student loan refinancing offers lower interest rates, better repayment terms, and consolidated payments. But refinancing is not for everyone. Consider the pros and cons of refinancing federal loans into private student loans carefully before moving forward.

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How much can you contribute to a 529 plan in 2019?

There are no annual contribution limits for 529 plans. However, each 529 plan has an aggregate contribution limit, ranging from $235,000 to $529,000. Families making a large 529 plan contribution should consider the annual gift tax exclusion amount and find out if they qualify for state income tax benefits.

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Women Owe Two-Thirds of Student Loan Debt

While student loan debt impacts both men and women, women shoulder the greater share of the burden. According to a study from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women owe more money and struggle more to pay it off, making student loan debt a serious women’s issue. Given high levels of student loan stress, it’s no wonder that borrowers delay getting married, buying a home and having children.

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Rehabilitation of Defaulted Federal Student Loans

If you’re in default with one or more of your federal student loans, you’re not alone. In the last few years, about 10% to 15% of borrowers have defaulted within three years of entering repayment. If you are in default, though, there is a way out called rehabilitation. Rehabilitation clears the default from your credit history and stops wage garnishment and the offset of income tax refunds.

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Using a 529 plan to pay for K-12? These states offer tax benefits.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act expanded the definition of 529 plan qualified expenses to include up to $10,000 per year in K-12 tuition. Twenty-one states have conformed to the new tax law, and offer a state tax deduction or credit for 529 plan contributions when the funds are used to pay for K-12 tuition.

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History of Student Loans: The Bennett Hypothesis

In a 1987 op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Our Greedy Colleges,” then-Education Secretary William J. Bennett ventured a theory that linked federal loan subsidies and the rising cost of tuition. His hypothesis has dominated debates surrounding the cost of postsecondary education for decades.

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How to Maximize Financial Aid for Out-of-State Colleges

If you’re a student or family member looking for a better financial deal from an out-of-state college, there are a few rules of the road you’re going to need to follow. Public colleges do indeed aggressively charge higher prices for academic entrance to state colleges and universities, when dealing with out-of-state and international students. But, there are options that can help defray the cost.

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What Are the Key Differences among Age-Based Asset Allocations?

Differences in performance of age-based investment glide paths are attributable to several key characteristics in the asset allocations. Savingforcollege.com analyzed 180 age-based investment options offered by all 85 of the 529 college savings plans for which data was available in Q3 of 2018. The report, Characteristic Differences among Age-Based Investment Glide Paths, identifies eight key characteristics that contribute to differences in investment performance.

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Federal Student Loan Myths

Federal student loans make it possible for you to pay for a college education, but like any debt, you should be smart about it. Here are a few of the myths about federal student loans and the facts that will help you make informed decisions about your student loans.

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Marriage Penalties with Student Loans

Getting married to the love of your life is exhilarating, but when the honeymoon is over and couples have to make tough financial decisions it can become stressful. Knowing about marriage penalties with student loans can help you make informed choices on how to file your taxes and budget your earnings after you say, “I do.”

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Beware of the New College Student Tax Penalty

The loss of the personal exemption in the tax cut legislation implicitly creates a new tax on college students. Although the Child Tax Credit was doubled to compensate for the loss of the personal exemption, the tax credit is available only for children under age 17. The new tax credit for other dependents does not fully compensate for the lost personal exemption for college students, since it is worth less than half as much.

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What is the Difference between a Cosigner and a Credit Reference?

Most students will not qualify for a private student loan on their own, due to a thin or nonexistent credit history. More than 90% of undergraduate private student loans require a creditworthy cosigner. The role of a cosigner can be confusing, especially for a parent who is new to student loans. Cosigners sometimes believe that they are merely giving a credit reference, to assure the lender that the student fully intends to pay back the loan. In reality, a cosigner is taking on a much more serious legal and financial obligation.

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Student Loan Debt Hinders Retirement Plans for Baby Boomers

A report from Guardian Life Insurance Co. revealed that Baby Boomers are the fastest-growing category of student loan debtors. Over half of 54- to 60-year-olds say college debt is preventing them from meeting financial goals, including retirement. Baby Boomers with student loan debt may consider refinancing their loans or exploring employer loan repayment assistance.

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Unum Offers Innovative Student Debt Relief Program

Hundreds of companies are offering Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs) to help employees repay their student loans. Financial protection provider Unum is expanding on this concept by allowing employees to exchange leftover paid time off (PTO) for student loan relief.

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What is a Grace Period?

A grace period on a student loan is a break between the end of school and the start of repayment. The grace period starts when the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment. Most grace periods last six months, but some loans do not have a grace period.

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What Should You Look for In a College Meal Plan?

Choosing your meal plan on campus isn’t usually a high priority for college students and their families – but maybe it should be. Nobody’s ever going to call it fine dining, but a college student has to eat, and since there is usually a price tag attached to that experience, you might as well select the best meal plan you can – and understand how to maximize that scenario.

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More Americans Give the Gift of College, Setting 529 Plan Records

Many 529 plans reported double-digit increases in gift contributions during the 2018 holiday season. This could be a sign that grandparents and other loved ones are becoming more comfortable with giving the gift of college. Parents may also be taking advantage of online tools and registries offered by 529 plans that make asking for gifts and receiving gifts easier.

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How to Choose a High-Yield Savings Account

High-yield savings accounts offer higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. High-yield savings accounts are good options for college students, parents and recent college graduates. But, how do you choose the high-yield savings account that best meets your needs?

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Can a 529 Plan Be Used to Pay for Summer Camp?

You cannot use a 529 plan to pay for summer camp costs. Summer camp expenses can add up, but there are ways families can bring costs down. For college students, 529 plans can be used to pay for study abroad and other summer programs offered through an eligible college or university.

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TEACH Grants Undergo Deadline and Reconsideration Makeover

The U.S. Department of Education is tweaking its Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, standardizing the certification dates and issuing a new rule on allowable instances where grant recipients can “reconsider” grants that have turned to student loans.

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What You Need to Know about the TEACH Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, or TEACH Grant, provides up to $4,000 per year in grants to help pay for college. However, if the grant recipient fails to teach for four of the eight years after graduation, the grant will turn into a loan, with interest accruing retroactively from the date of disbursement.

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How Student Loan Debt Affects Home Ownership

Student loan debt is commonly reported as an obstacle to home ownership. The Federal Reserve released a report examining the relationship between student loan debt and the decreasing rate of young adult home ownership. While it can be a challenge, it is possible to balance student loan debt with plans to buy a home.

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History of Student Loans: The Free Tuition Movement

The free-tuition movement in the United States finds its roots in the Morrill Act of 1862, which instituted a system of low-cost land grant colleges. Although there was never a national mandate, the contemporary free-tuition movement has found some success at the state level and hundreds of College Promise programs have proliferated at the city level.

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Strategic Default Does Not Save Money on Student Loans

Strategic default is a practice where a borrower intentionally defaults on a loan to obtain a settlement for less than what is owed. When it comes to student loan debt, however, strategic default is not an effective solution. Unless you qualify for student loan forgiveness, paying down your college debt is the best way to get rid of it.

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Annual and Aggregate Student Loan Limits

Annual and aggregate loan limits specify the maximum amount that may be borrowed from a student loan program per year and in total. Student loan limits vary depending on the type of loan, the student’s degree level, year in school and dependency status, the college’s cost of attendance, other aid received by the student and the loan program.

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Should You Use Extra Money to Pay Off Student Loan Debt or Invest?

If you end up with a little extra money in your bank account — from a tax refund, a bonus, or from living below your means — you may wonder what you should do with this cash. Should you put it toward your student loan or invest it?

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Life after Student Loan Debt

With the cost of college increasing every year, more students and parents are leaving higher education with ballooning student loan debt. If you’ve finally gotten out from under the weight of your student loans or your child’s student debt, you might be wondering what’s next? The hundreds of dollars you save by having paid off your student loans can be put to good use, helping you achieve other goals.

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Collection Charges on Defaulted Federal Student Loans

If you’re struggling to make payments on your federal student loans, the last thing you want is to default. At that point, the U.S. Department of Education can refer your account to a debt collection agency. Not only can the process damage your credit, but you’ll also be on the hook for the cost of collection charges on your own debt.

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What Are the Tradeoffs of Federal and Private Loans for Parents?

When it comes to financing college costs, it’s important to find the right loan. After the student has exhausted the Federal Direct Stafford loan limits, there are several borrowing options available to parents, including Federal Parent PLUS Loans, private student loans and private parent loans. What are the pros and cons of these loans?

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FINRA Gives Firms Until April 1 to Self-Report 529 Plan Share Class Violations

FINRA’s new 529 Plan Share Class Initiative allows firms to self-report any issues with 529 plan share class recommendations and supervision by April 1 to avoid fines. FINRA hopes the initiative will help to remedy potential violations and return money to affected investors as quickly and effectively as possible.

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Questions Cosigners Should Ask Before Cosigning a Student Loan

Many lenders require a cosigner for a private student loan. This limits their risk and ensures the loan is repaid even if the borrower misses payments or defaults. But, cosigning a student loan comes with inherent risk to the cosigner and isn’t something to take lightly Cosigners should ask some key questions before agreeing to cosign a loan.

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True Love Is Giving the Gift of College

This Valentine’s Day consider showing your affection to your child or grandchild by giving the gift of college. Flowers, toys and candy are nice gestures, but a 529 plan contribution is an investment in a child’s future.

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Five Steps to Securing Your Dream College Internship

The college internship market is growing, albeit slowly, at a 1.7% clip in 2018, according to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Follow an internship action plan to improve the odds of landing your dream internship.

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Five Elements of a Great College Internship

College internships have long been viewed by colleges, students and employers as a “win-win-win” proposition. For students, an internship can provide real-world experience, professional training and a paycheck.

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Student Loan Garnishment

When a borrower defaults on a student loan, the lender may be able to obtain a wage garnishment order to seize part of the borrower’s wages to repay the debt. The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) also allows the federal government to offset Social Security benefit payments and income tax refunds.

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Private Student Loan Myths

Surprisingly, many student loan borrowers have serious misconceptions about how private student loans work. Here are several myths about private student loans and the truths behind each one.

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Start Early with College Savings

Financial gurus often tout the benefits of starting early when saving for college, and at face value, that seems like a logical strategy. After all, the earlier you start saving money, the more time there’ll be for earnings to compound and the more money you’ll have 18 years later.

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Fixed vs. Variable Interest Rate Student Loans

Student loans either have a fixed interest rate or a variable interest rate. All federal student loans carry a fixed rate for the life of the loan. Private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and other financial institutions, typically offer both fixed and variable interest rate options. Which type of interest rate is best depends on the borrower's specific circumstances.

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How to Manage Your Student Loans When Facing a Financial Hardship

When student loan borrowers face financial difficulty, such as job loss or a medical emergency, keeping up with student loan payments can be challenging. There are solutions available to help borrowers avoid defaulting on their student loans, regardless of whether they are facing a short-term hardship or long-term hardship.

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Renting College Textbooks – A Primer

College students have enough on their plate financially, even before they get to campus and have to shell out more cash for textbooks. At some colleges, the cost of textbooks exceeds the cost of tuition. Renting textbooks is an option for cutting the costs of college textbooks.

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Using a 529 Plan to Pay for Continuing Education

Adults returning to college can use a 529 plan to pay for continuing education, undergraduate courses or graduate courses offered at an eligible college or university. Parents may use leftover funds in a child’s 529 plan account, or adults can open their own 529 plan account to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Residents of some states are eligible for a state income tax deduction or credit for 529 plan contributions, no matter how long the funds are held in the 529 plan account.

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How Student Loan Interest Works

Interest is a fee charged by a lender for the use of borrowed money. For example, student loan borrowers are charged interest on the money received from education lenders. However, many student loan borrowers do not understand how interest works.

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Signs You Need a Cosigner for Your Student Loans

One way lenders minimize the risk of making a student loan is by requiring a creditworthy cosigner. More than 90% of private student loans to undergraduate students require a cosigner. A cosigner is responsible for repaying a student loan if the student borrower is unable or unwilling to repay the debt. This reduces the risk for lenders and ensures that the loan is repaid on time and in full. There are several reasons why a borrower might be required to have a cosigner for their student loans.

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How to Appeal for More Financial Aid for College

If you didn’t get enough financial aid, you can always ask for more. The worst that can happen is the college financial aid administrator says “no.” But, to increase the chances of a successful appeal, it is important to understand how the appeals process works. Appealing for more financial aid depends on presenting the college financial aid office with adequate documentation of special circumstances that affect the family’s ability to pay for college.

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How to Optimize Your Student Loan Refinancing Experience

There’s no shortage of student loan borrowers who wish they had a time machine, and could go back in time to make better decisions on their college financing decisions – especially on their student loans. Since time machines are the stuff of science fiction, student loan borrowers may need to refinance their student loans to keep their personal financial lives manageable. If you believe refinancing your student loan is a good idea, then the way forward is having a good blueprint to maximize your student loan refinancing experience.

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When is Refinancing Your Student Loans a Bad Idea?

Refinancing your student loans is a bad idea if it doesn’t add up financially, and won’t save you much money. Worse, some refinancing scenarios could lead to higher fees and higher payments, and take some much-needed leverage out of the equation.

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How to Avoid the 10% Tax Penalty on Non-Qualified Distributions

The earnings portion of a non-qualified distribution from a 529 plan is subject to income tax at the beneficiary’s rate, plus a 10 percent tax penalty. There are, however, several exceptions in which the 10 percent tax penalty does not apply, such as death or disability of the beneficiary and receipt of a qualified scholarship by the beneficiary.

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Cheap Dating Ideas When You Owe Student Loans

It is your turn to plan date night. When you have student loans, you worry that date night will involve spending money you don’t have, especially if you follow the crowd with entertainment followed by an expensive dinner. Don’t sweat it. No matter what your interests are as a couple, you can have a date night that won’t hinder your debt payoff plan. Spend time instead of money for a fun date night.

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Pay College Costs Monthly with Tuition Installment Plans

Tuition installment plans provide an alternative for families who can afford to pay for a child’s college education, but not in one big lump sum at the beginning of a semester or quarter. Tuition installment plans, also called tuition payment plans or deferred payment plans, split college costs into equal monthly payments. This makes budgeting for college costs more manageable.

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How to Complain about Your Student Loans

There are many reasons why a borrower or cosigner might wish to complain about their student loans. They want a solution to the problems they have experienced. They want to hold the lender or servicer accountable for their problems. There are several key steps to filing an effective complaint about a federal or private student loan.

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How Long Does It Take to Repay a Student Loan?

College graduates worry that they will be stuck repaying their student loans for decades, even during retirement. The amount of time it takes to repay a student loan in full depends on the type of loan, the amount borrowed, the interest rate and the repayment plan the borrower selects, as well as the use of deferments and forbearances. Borrowers typically take no more than 16-19 years to repay their federal student loans.

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History of Student Loans: Origins

How education is funded and how students pay for it has changed significantly since the inception of the first American colleges. Postsecondary education was once free or very inexpensive, a far cry from the exorbitant sums now expected of students even at state universities. The student loan system that now saddles most students with significant debt is only 60 years old. The evolution of student loans has been attributed to a series of social and economic developments, from changing enrollment demographics to the Industrial Revolution to the World Wars.

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Companies that Repay Your Student Loans

Millions of employees enter the workforce with student loan debt each year. Modern companies face immense competition and are looking to attract and retain top talent. This has given rise to a new type of employee benefit where some companies are willing to help employees repay their student loans.

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Remember John Bogle's Advice When Saving for College

John C. Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, has died at age 89. Bogle was known as the father of index investing, a low-cost, passive strategy that aims to match returns of a broad market index, such as the S&P 500 Index. Many 529 plans offer Vanguard index funds as underlying investments.

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What Do I Do If My Federal Parent Plus Loan Is Denied?

Are you frustrated because your Parent PLUS loan was denied? Don’t worry; there are still opportunities for your child to receive the aid they need for their education.

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How to Build Good Credit as a College Student

Good credit can open up financial possibilities that are otherwise hard to achieve, so it makes sense to start building good credit as soon as possible. That can be tricky when you’re a student but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If graduating with good credit is one of your goals, there are steps you can take to achieve it.

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When Is Refinancing Your Student Loans a Good Deal?

Is refinancing your student loans a good idea? In some cases, yes, there are good reasons for refinancing your student loans, with getting a lower interest rate at the top of that list. In others, however, refinancing your student loans doesn’t add up financially and won’t save you much money. This article considers when refinancing a student loan is worthwhile.

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How to Build an Emergency Fund after Graduation

A crucial step for financial security is having an emergency fund of about half a year’s salary. No job is secure and life has been known to throw curve balls. An emergency fund can provide a buffer for unemployment or unanticipated expenses.

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How to Settle Your Student Loans at a Discount

If you’ve defaulted on your federal student loans, you may be able to settle with the collection agency for less than what you owe. There are three standard settlement offers that collection agencies are authorized to accept without prior approval by the U.S. Department of Education.

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What happens to student and parent loans if the borrower dies?

Having a hefty student loan balance can make you feel like you might be paying off that debt for the rest of your life. But, what would happen if you die before your loans are paid off?

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How to Freeze a Child's Credit

A new law requires credit bureaus to offer free credit freezes for adults and children under 16. Freezing a child’s credit helps protects them from identity theft, including financial aid fraud. Children are an easy target for identity thieves, since it can take years to discover that a child’s identity has been compromised or stolen.

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Bad Advice about Borrowing for College

Borrowing money for college is a major catch-22: You might not be able to afford college without student loans. But, when it comes time to repay the student loans, you might not be able to afford the loan payments. Taking out student loans for college can be helpful and necessary, but not all advice about borrowing is good advice.

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Effective Ways to Curb Your Student Loan Debt Today

An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure when it comes to student loans, but, once you borrow the money, the debt is water under the bridge. Yet, there are a few ways to deal with the debt now, even after the fact.

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States are Beginning to Offer 529 Plan Investment Options for K-12

Louisiana and Kentucky are the first states to offer 529 plan investment options specifically designed to help families save and pay for K-12 tuition. Louisiana launched the START K12 Program, a separate 529 plan for K-12, and Kentucky will offer new investment options based on college or K-12 enrollment dates.

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Weird Ways to Repay Your Student Loans

As the average student loan debt balance climbs, so does the number of weird ways to repay student loans. Game shows, mobile apps, sweepstakes, and crowdfunding sites are some of the options now available to student loan borrowers. In addition, several places are offering student loan repayment assistance for those willing to pick up and move.

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How to Use Crowdfunding to Cover College Costs

Crowdfunding is a means of raising money online from a large number of people. Crowdfunding has been used to raise money to provide relief for hurricane victims and financial aid for starving people in Africa, to get capital for start-up companies, to pay for medical treatment, and to achieve other worthwhile goals. Some students also use crowdfunding to pay a portion of their college costs or to repay student loans.

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What is a Master Promissory Note?

When it comes to paying for college, most students have to turn to student loans and parent loans to foot the bill. However, many students and parents don’t fully understand what they’re getting into; they just sign their name on the bottom of the Master Promissory Note (MPN). The Master Promissory Note is a legal contract that specifies the terms and conditions and other details of your federal student loans.

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Turn $1 into $10,000 for College

Would you believe that you can turn $1 into $10,000 for college? This is not a Ponzi scheme or a bet on Bitcoin, but rather a rule of thumb based on the fundamentals of saving for college. Saving a dollar a day can yield $10,000 for your child’s college education.

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Six Ways Student Loan Debt Can Get Out of Hand

Too many U.S. college borrowers are drowning in student loan debt, and the problem is only getting worse. That’s why it’s so important for student loan borrowers to recognize the “red flags” that can lead to an unmanageable student loan debt problem, and take direct action to eliminate that problem.

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Student Loan Interest Deduction

The student loan interest deduction lets borrowers deduct all or part of the interest they pay on their federal student loans and private student loans. While you’re likely frustrated with the fact that a chunk of your monthly student loan payments goes towards interest, the student loan interest deduction can reduce the cost of that interest. You can claim the student loan interest deduction even if you use the standard deduction.

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Move Here for Student Loan Repayment Assistance

Several states and a few towns and counties offer student loan repayment assistance for borrowers willing to relocate. The financial incentives range from about $5,000 to $50,000 or more. Most programs require four or five years of residency to receive the maximum award.

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How to Make Extra Payments on Your Student Loans

Borrowers who have extra money often want to repay their student loans more quickly, to save on interest and to get started sooner on pursuing their dreams. Instead of just paying the minimum on their student loans, they want to pay extra to expedite the repayment process.

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How to Repay Your Student Loans by Volunteering

Volunteering can be a great way of giving back, whether in your own community or in a far-flung corner of the world. In addition to exposure to new experiences and the psychological benefits of altruism, volunteering can be a great way to build a professional network. Volunteering also offers an opportunity to earn education awards that can help repay student loan debt.

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How to Save for College When You're Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Almost 1 in 10 working Americans earning $100,000 or more live paycheck to paycheck, according to a report from CareerBuilder. With little or nothing left over after meeting financial obligations each month, saving for college might seem impossible. But, even a small amount invested wisely in a 529 plan can make a big difference when your child is ready for college. Here are some ways even families on a tight budget can build substantial college savings.

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The Most Common Mistakes When Borrowing Student Loans

Not all student loans are created equal. Some student loans have advantages and some have disadvantages. Avoid these common mistakes that have cost consequences when borrowing a student loan. Understand your borrowing options and do your research before taking on student loan debt.

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The Most Common Mistakes When Repaying Student Loans

Making a mistake in repaying your student loans will cause you stress and cost you money. Ten tips will help you avoid student loan planning and payment mistakes.

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Defense of Infancy for Student Loans

The defense of infancy is one way borrowers may attempt to deny responsibility for their student loans. With the defense of infancy, a borrower disputes their legal obligation to repay a debt by asserting that they lacked the legal capacity to sign the loan promissory note due to being under the age of majority. The defense of infancy applies to private student loans but not to federal student loans.

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Emotional Investing Mistakes to Avoid When Saving for College

Saving for a child’s college education can be an emotional journey for parents and grandparents. But, making emotional investment decisions with your college savings can have negative consequences that will keep you from reaching your goals.

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Understanding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

If a borrower defaults on their student loan debt, the lender can hire a debt collection agency to recover the debt. These agencies, whether hired by a private lender or the federal government, are subject to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). Anyone who has been contacted by a debt collection agency should understand their rights under the FDCPA, what happens if those rights are violated, and how to best communicate with debt collectors.

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Is Givling a Good Idea for Student Loan Borrowers?

Givling is a mobile app that is part trivia contest and part crowdfunding for student loan borrowers. Participants can win a weekly cash prize by answering a series of true/false questions correctly. They may also qualify to have up to $50,000 of their student loans repaid through crowdfunding. Using the app may be a fun way to try and reduce student loan debt, but borrowers should understand their prospects for success before spending significant money.

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How to Get or Refinance a Mortgage as a Student Loan Cosigner

Cosigning a student loan can affect the cosigner’s ability to qualify for a new mortgage or to refinance a current mortgage. As a cosigner, you could face higher interest rates or be denied a mortgage altogether. Although it might seem stressful at first, there are financial moves you can make that could help you get or refinance a mortgage.

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What is Capitalized Interest?

Capitalized interest is accrued but unpaid interest that is added to the principal balance of the loan. Not only does this increase the amount of debt, but it leads to compound interest, where interest is charged on the capitalized interest.

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Several Cities Offer Free College Tuition Programs

Several U.S. cities and municipalities offer government-sponsored free tuition programs. These programs are either completely or partially free, and most have conditions and mandates that student recipients must follow, similar to the restrictions on state free college tuition programs.

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Do Student Loans Have Prepayment Penalties?

There are no formal penalties for prepaying federal student loans or private student loans. Lenders are banned from charging additional fees when a borrower makes extra payments on their student loans or pays off the student loan balance early. However, a few additional steps may be necessary to ensure that student loan prepayments are applied to the principal balance of the loan with the highest interest rate.

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How to Qualify for Cosigner Release

More than 90% of private student loans are borrowed with the help of a cosigner, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). But, cosigning a loan can affect the cosigner’s credit, such as limiting the cosigner’s ability to buy a home or refinance a mortgage. As a result, cosigners would like to be released from their obligation to repay the debt. Understanding how cosigner release works can help borrowers qualify for cosigner release.

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How to Give Your Child Skin in the Game with College Financial Planning

Don’t want to talk to your kids about money? Think you need to shield them from overwhelming financial decisions? You might be missing an opportunity to teach fiscal skills using one of the most substantial and impactful purchases in both of your lives: a college education. College is a transition from a sheltered existence to the real world.

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How Much Parent Loan Debt Is Too Much Debt

Borrowing too much parent loan debt can affect a parent's ability to retire on time and with as little debt as possible. It is important to understand how much parent loan debt is too much, and what you can do if you borrow more than you can afford to repay.

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Is the student responsible for repaying a Parent PLUS loan?

Many Parent PLUS Loan borrowers are curious about who’s responsible for repaying a Parent PLUS Loan. Is it strictly limited to the parent? Or can the student step in and handle it? There are some very specific rules in place that dictate who must pay back the debt.

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How to Get a Cosigner for a Private Student Loan for College

If you need a private student loan for college, you probably also need a cosigner. Only about ten percent of undergraduate students can qualify for a private student loan on their own, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Apart from helping you secure the loan, having a financially responsible cosigner may also reduce the interest rate on your private student loan.

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How to Buy a House when You Have Student Loans

For many college graduates, the American Dream of owning a home seems blocked by a wall of student loan debt. But, home ownership is still possible, if you understand how student loans affect your debt-to-income ratio.

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Can You Be Arrested for Not Repaying Your Student Loans?

The potential consequences of unpaid student loans can be serious, ranging from damaged credit and lawsuits to even arrest. Even though the United States no longer has debtors’ prisons, it is still possible today to be arrested for unpaid debt, including unpaid student loan debt, if you fail to appear in court.

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Don’t Panic: What to Do with College Savings in a Volatile Market

Fearing the end of the longest bull market in history, families may start to panic and make moves detrimental to their college savings. Here are some things to consider before making any changes to your 529 plan investments during a stock market downturn.

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More States are Offering Free College Tuition – But Does It Work?

As of December 2018, 20 U.S states provide free tuition programs for low- and middle-income families who want to send their sons and daughters to college. Most of these free tuition programs are limited to community colleges.

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Repayment Options for Parent PLUS Loans

You helped your student get through college by taking out a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan. These loans, which are your responsibility to repay, enter repayment 60 days after full disbursement or 6 months after your student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment. There are several options for repaying Parent PLUS Loans.

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New Year’s College Savings Resolutions

New year’s resolutions often include financial goals such as paying down debt and saving money for retirement. Parents who are saving for college should also use this time to review and improve their college savings strategy. Here are nine college savings resolutions to get you on the right track for the year ahead.

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The Freezer Method for Dealing with Student Loans

Student loan debt can be overwhelming. Mail concerning loan payments, updates and forms to fill out only intensifies the problem. This leaves students buried in a pile of documents to deal with along with their schoolwork. One strategy that some people employ when handling student loans is called the freezer method.

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Do You Need Good Credit to Get a Student Loan?

Student loans and parent loans are made by the federal government and by private financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. Credit underwriting criteria for federal loans depend on the type of loan. But, private lenders always require a review of the borrower’s creditworthiness before approving a loan.

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What is the Net Price?

Just as each person on an airplane pays a different price for their ticket, students sitting in a lecture hall on a college campus may pay a different price for their education. Each student pays their own net price, which is a discounted sticker price. Knowing how the net price is calculated is crucial to understanding college pricing and what your student will pay for their college education.

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Cost of Attendance

A college’s annual cost of attendance, also known as the sticker price, includes tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies and equipment, transportation and miscellaneous personal expenses. The cost of attendance may also include dependent care costs and special needs expenses.

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How to Get Student Loan Forgiveness for Parent Loans

Parents are increasingly facing a student loan debt burden of their own, as they borrow parent loans to help their children pay for college. These parents want to know if their parent loans are eligible for student loan forgiveness and, if so, how to qualify for loan forgiveness on their parent loans.

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Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965

The Higher Education Act of 1965 is the legislation that authorizes most federal student aid programs. Major changes in student aid policy occur when the Higher Education Act of 1965 is periodically reauthorized. The Higher Education Act is supposed to be reauthorized every 4-5 years, but the delay between reauthorizations has been increasing with each successive reauthorization. The Higher Education Act of 1965 is overdue to be reauthorized.

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How Do Trust Funds Affect Financial Aid for College?

Trust funds must be reported as the beneficiary’s asset on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), even if access to the trust is restricted. Trust funds can significantly reduce a student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid.

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Beware of Refinancing Student Loans

There are some serious flaws in refinancing your student loans. Some websites generate revenue by advertising refinancing options and they may not have your best interests at heart. Avoid these refinancing mistakes by understanding how the process works for your specific situation.

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Pausing Student Loan Payments Can Cost You Plenty

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, asking your student loan provider for a payment break may seem like a good idea at first glance – but think again. Forbearance can add thousands of dollars in interest to a student loan.

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Beware of student loan scams

According to the U.S. Department of Education, millions of borrowers are struggling to repay their federal student loans. Desperate for financial relief, some of these borrowers jump at enticing offers for lower monthly payments and loan forgiveness. Unfortunately, many of these opportunities are too good to be true, leading borrowers to fall prey to student loan scams. To avoid becoming a victim of a student loan scam, learn how these scams work and the warning signs of a student loan scam.

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Paying for College with Your 401(k): Wise Move or Bad Choice?

As an alternative to traditional student loans, borrowing against your 401(k) to pay for a child’s or grandchild’s college education presents advantages and disadvantages. Experts caution against 401(k) loans because they will impact your own retirement situation. However, a 401(k) loan might be a viable option for you under certain circumstances. In other cases, it may be the only option.

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Statute of Limitations on Student Loan Debt

Borrowers who have defaulted on their student loans can be sued by their lender to collect the debt. They may also be subject to garnishment of their wages and offset of income tax refunds. These borrowers need to understand whether and how the statute of limitations applies to their student loan debt. Otherwise, they may unintentionally reset the clock on time-barred debt.

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Can you work your way through college?

Rising college costs and nearly stagnant wage growth have made it impossible for today’s students to work their way through college. Students without college savings will have to look for other ways to reduce costs or choose a less expensive college.

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Five Mobile Money Apps for the Financially-Minded College Student

There’s no doubt that smart phone mobile apps have become a way of life – especially for younger Americans. From preparing a college savings budget to taking leftover change and steering it to college loan payments, mobile apps have much to offer college students.

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States that offer 529 plan grant programs

A dozen states make it easier to save for college by offering grants to residents who use their 529 plans. Some states provide matching grants for 529 plan contributions and others seed new 529 plan accounts with an initial contribution.

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Are Student Loans Good Debt or Bad Debt?

Some financial experts maintain that there is no such thing as good debt. In a sense, they are correct. It’s never ideal to owe money. However, there are some categories of debt that provide discernible benefits to their borrowers, while others are purely detrimental. Student loans possess characteristics of both.

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How to Cut Spending to Save Money to Repay Student Loans Faster

Making more than the minimum payment on your student loans is one of the most effective ways to pay them off faster. A larger payment reduces the total amount of interest you will pay. You will need to take a hard look at your budget to reach a balance of zero more quickly.

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Get Ready for the Start of Student Loan Repayment

Student loan repayment begins six months after the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment. There are several steps that student loan borrowers should take during the grace period, before the start of repayment, to ensure that the repayment begins smoothly.

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NextGen 529 – Client Direct Series: 529 plan review

The NextGen 529 Client Direct Series is a direct-sold 529 plan available nationwide. Investors can select from BlackRock mutual funds and iShares exchange traded funds (ETFs). The plan is administered by the Finance Authority of Maine, which offers matching grants for eligible Maine residents.

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Celebrate National Maple Syrup Day with Scholarships

December 17, National Maple Syrup Day, is a day of special significance to Savingforcollege.com. After he retired, our founder, Joe Hurley, started producing maple syrup and honey on his farm, Kettle Ridge Farm.

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How to Make Sense of College Financial Aid Award Letters

Parents may be vexed on how to figure out exactly how much their son or daughter is getting in a financial aid package, and with good reason. Financial aid award letters are extremely confusing, making it difficult to understand how much the college will really cost.

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Should you switch 529 plans if you move to another state?

Families who are moving to another state may consider switching 529 plans to maximize state income tax benefits. Federal tax law allows one tax-free 529 plan rollover per 12-month period. However, each state has its own rules regarding eligibility for income tax benefits and tax treatment of 529 plan rollovers.

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College Savings Glossary

Some of the terminology involved in college savings plans can be confusing. This glossary defines some of the more complicated terms.

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How to Transfer a Parent PLUS Loan to your Child

Federal Parent Plus loans are borrowed by the parent of a dependent undergraduate student to help the student pay for college. The Parent PLUS loan cannot be directly transferred from the parent to the child. Instead, there are a few options for shifting responsibility for the Parent PLUS loans to the child. But, parents should carefully consider the tradeoffs before adding Parent PLUS loans to the child’s student loan burden.

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How to Figure out Your 529 Plan “Glide Path”

While many 529 college savings plans offer standardized glide paths that reduce risk as the child gets closer to college, these paths are one-size-fits all.

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How to pay off parent loans more quickly

Today’s parents are borrowing record high student loans to cover their children’s college costs. In turn, many are struggling to repay the large balances, forcing them into longer repayment terms. Following a few key strategies should help them repay their student loans more quickly.

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How to get a Federal Parent PLUS Loan with bad credit

Parents of dependent undergraduate students can apply for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan to help cover the family’s share of college costs, beyond the financial aid package. Before applying for a Parent PLUS loan, it is important to understand how your credit history affects loan eligibility. Even if you do have bad credit, that does not mean you are automatically ineligible or unable to change that status.

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How to Earn Extra Money to Repay Student Loans

Making extra payments can save interest on your student loans. While you could cut your budget or tighten up your spending, it is not the only option for freeing up extra money to pay back student loans. If you do not want to cancel your Netflix subscription, consider increasing your income instead.

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The Goldilocks Student Loan: When College Debt Is Just Right

While mom and dad are worried about getting enough money for their kids’ college education, there’s another potential problem that flies under the college financing radar – borrowing more student loan money than you actually need and incurring larger financing costs as a result.

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How to open a direct-sold 529 plan

Families saving for college can enroll in a direct-sold 529 plan by completing a form on the 529 plan’s website. Direct-sold 529 plans are convenient and generally offer low fees, but the account owner is responsible for selecting and monitoring the 529 plan’s underlying investments.

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Closed School Discharge for Students and Parents

If a college closes while a student is enrolled or soon after the student withdraws, and the student is unable to complete the educational program at another college, the student and parent may be entitled to a discharge of their federal student loans that were borrowed to pay for the closed school.

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State tax incentives for employer 529 plan matching

States encourage residents to save for college by offering state income tax breaks, matching grants and scholarships for families who use 529 plans. Some states also drive 529 plan participation through employers by offering a tax incentive for contributions to employee 529 plans.

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College Savings Plans Increase College-Going Rates

Opening a college savings plan is one of the best ways of increasing the odds that a child will go to college. Research has shown that even a small college savings plan statistically improves college-going rates no matter the level of household income.

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529 plans that offer ETFs

After a 529 plan is opened, the next step is to select an investment portfolio that will help maximize college savings. Parents may want to consider a 529 plan portfolio that contains exchange-traded funds (ETFs). ETFs can be a low-cost way of investing in a total stock market or index portfolio.

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Retroactive tax benefits with April deadlines

Most tax-saving strategies have a December 31 deadline, but there are some last-minute moves families have until April to make. Here are five ways to maximize prior-year tax benefits by making retroactive contributions.

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529 plan gifts may be deductible on state income tax returns

One of the most effective ways to help a child save for college is by funding a 529 plan. Investments in a 529 plan grow tax-free and will not be taxed when the beneficiary uses the money for college. The gift giver may also qualify for a state income tax deduction or credit for 529 plan contributions, regardless of who owns the account.

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States where you can claim a prior-year 529 plan tax deduction

State income tax deadlines are approaching, but families saving for college may still have time to reduce their 2018 taxable income. Most states have a December 31 contribution deadline to qualify for a 529 plan tax deduction, but taxpayers in the states listed below have until April.

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Should you have a separate 529 plan to save for K-12?

Families can now use a 529 plan to save and pay for up to $10,000 (per year, per beneficiary) in tuition expenses at K-12 schools. If you're thinking of using a 529 plan to save for K-12 tuition, you should consider keeping your K-12 savings separate from your college savings plan.

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How to give the gift of college savings

A gift of college savings is a meaningful alternative to traditional birthday, holiday, baby shower and graduation gifts. Many 529 plan gifting platforms allow friends and family to make a secure electronic deposit to a child’s 529 plan account.

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529 plan contribution deadlines for state tax benefits

As we head into the final weeks of 2018 you may be looking for ways to reduce your taxable income. If you’re currently saving for college, you may qualify for a state income tax credit or deduction for contributions to a 529 plan.

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Student Loan Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment

Federal student loan borrowers who are undergoing active treatment for cancer may defer repaying their Federal Direct student loans for the duration of treatment and for 6 months afterward. Interest does not accrue on any Federal Direct student loans during the active cancer treatment deferment, not even on unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford loans.

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Cancer Scholarships

More than 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. An even greater number of parents of college-age children die of cancer. Cancer is a source of stress on a family, both financial and non-financial. Cancer drains family resources that otherwise could help send their children to college. Cancer scholarships can help alleviate some of that stress.

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Differences between Children’s Savings Accounts and 529 Plans

Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) and 529 college savings plans both help families save for a child’s college education. While any amount of college savings is better than none, there are several key differences between these two types of college savings accounts. These differences affect how the account is opened, how funds grow and how the money may be spent when college bills are due.

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Bloomberg Gives $1.8 Billion to Support No-Loans Financial Aid

Philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg, 76, is giving $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, to support need-blind admissions and a no-loans financial aid policy. This is the largest gift ever made to a college or university.

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Colleges with No-Loans Financial Aid Policies

More than six dozen U.S. colleges and universities have adopted no-loans financial aid policies. These policies eliminate loans from the financial aid packages of low-income students, replacing them with grants and work-study. Some of the colleges have extended their no-loans financial aid policies to also include middle-income students and some to all student aid recipients, not just low-income students.

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Can you use a 529 plan to pay for graduate school?

A 529 plan may be used to pay for the beneficiary’s graduate school or professional school education. A distribution to pay for qualified higher education expenses at a graduate school or professional school will be considered a qualified distribution and therefore tax-free.

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How to Increase Chances of Qualifying for a Student Loan Refinance

There are six steps that can improve your odds of being approved for a refinance of your private student loans, sometimes called a private consolidation loan. These include maintaining stable employment, ensuring sufficient income to repay the debt, keeping a low debt-to-income ratio, having a very good or excellent credit score, getting a creditworthy cosigner and shopping around for the best interest rates and fees.

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Can you use a 529 plan to pay for travel costs?

You cannot use a 529 plan to pay for travel and transportation costs. The earnings portion of a distribution from a 529 that is used to pay for travel and transportation expenses will be considered a non-qualified distribution. Non-qualified distributions are taxable at the beneficiary’s rate, plus a 10% tax penalty, as well as recapture of state income tax benefits attributable to the distribution.

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Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill for IRS Data Sharing for Student Aid

In a sign of renewed cooperation between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation to enable sharing of IRS data with the U.S. Department of Education. The sharing of IRS data will help students who are applying for federal student financial aid.

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Is it ever too late to start saving for college?

Ideally, parents should start saving for college as soon as their child is born (or earlier). But, even if your child is a teenager there is still time to take advantage of 529 plan benefits and reduce the amount they will have to borrow in student loans.

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State Treasurer asks IRS to allow college savings for Pre-K

Mississippi State Treasurer Lynn Fitch wrote a letter to the IRS on November 5, 2018, asking the IRS to include preschool tuition as a qualified expense for 529 plans. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expanded qualified expenses to include up to $10,000 per year per beneficiary in tuition for elementary and secondary schools. The IRS has proposed regulations that would limit the definition of elementary and secondary school to K-12, excluding Pre-K.

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529 plan performance review: Q3 2018

Each quarter Savingforcollege.com analyzes the investment performance figures for thousands of 529 portfolios and ranks the 529 savings plans from best to worst for 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year investment performance. Our 529 plan performance rankings include plans that consumers can enroll in directly, as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners.

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Top 10 direct-sold 529 plans: Q3 2018

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow provides information on the top 10 direct-sold 529 plans, including performance score, program manager and how to enroll. Based on 3-year performance as of 9/30/18.

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With Upromise, you can earn money for college every time you travel

Looking for ways to boost college savings? Families can earn rewards of 7% cash back or more by booking travel plans through the Upromise shopping portal. Earned college dollars can be automatically transferred to a linked 529 plan account.

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Save for college while holiday shopping with Upromise

Holiday spending is on the rise, giving families more opportunities to grow their college savings with Upromise. Here are some ways to maximize your Upromise rewards as you shop for gifts, dine out at restaurants and more.

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Is it ever too early to start saving for college?

Many new parents hesitate to enroll in a 529 plan because they want to plan for their own retirement and/or they’re not sure about the future. But, each day you wait to start saving for college you miss out on potential earnings growth in your 529 plan account. To get the most out of your 529 plan, the best time to start saving for college is right now.

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Checklist for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is complicated, with a lot of details. This checklist will help you make sure you satisfy all of the criteria. Pay attention to the details.

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Celebrate National STEM Day with Math and Science Scholarships

National STEM Day, which occurs annually on November 8 (NOV8 = en-o-v-ate = innovate), presents an opportunity to explore scholarship opportunities in math, science, engineering and technology. Some of the most generous scholarships are available to students who are interested in math and science.

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Can you use a 529 plan to pay for room and board?

If a 529 plan distribution is used to pay for room and board, it is a tax-free qualified distribution in certain circumstances and a taxable non-qualified distribution in other circumstances. The student must be enrolled as a regular student on at least a half-time basis.

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Scholarships for Younger Children

Don’t wait until the senior year in high school to start searching for scholarships. There are many scholarships that children can win in younger grades, even in kindergarten.

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Before you open a grandparent 529 account...

A 529 college savings plan can be a very effective way for grandparents to build a college fund for their grandchildren. However, there are a few questions grandparents must ask themselves before opening a 529 account.

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Morningstar Publishes Paper about How to Increase Interest in 529 Plans

Morningstar Inc. has released a research paper about family use of 529 plans, New Lessons about 529s. The paper shows that getting middle-income families to shift college savings to 529 plans will yield increased investment returns. The paper also provides practical ideas for getting more families to invest in 529 plans.

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Morningstar Releases 529 Plan Ratings

Morningstar Inc. released its annual analyst ratings for 529 plans on October 30, 2018. Morningstar rated 62 of the largest 529 college savings plans, assigning them to one of five tiers: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Neutral and Negative.

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What is a 529 Plan? (Video)

A 529 plan is a tax-free way of saving for college costs. Money in 529 college savings plans also has a minimal impact on the student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid for college. Since 2018, 529 plans can also be used to save for elementary and secondary school tuition.

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How much do you really save by going to community college?

A popular strategy to reduce college costs is to start out at a community college and eventually transfer and graduate from a 4-year college. But, transferring colleges isn’t always a smooth process, and could end up costing you more than you expect.

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Average 529 plan balance: How do you compare?

The average 529 plan balance has hit a record high. But, this amount may not be sufficient to cover future college expenses. The amount you should have saved for college depends on your child’s age and where they want to go to college. Find out if your college savings are on track

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Want to retire early? Don’t forget to save for college.

The FIRE movement focuses on cutting spending and aggressively saving enough money to gain financial independence and retire early. But, followers of FIRE are not always considering future college costs, putting their children at risk for high student loan balances.

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How to Open a 529 Plan in New York

This step-by-step guide to enrolling in New York’s 529 college savings plans helps parents and grandparents understand how to open a New York 529 plan.

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Tax Benefits of New York 529 Plans

In addition to the standard federal and state tax benefits, New York 529 plans offer a state income tax deduction based on up to $10,000 in contributions to the state’s 529 plans.

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New York 529 Plan Contribution Limits

There are no annual contribution limits for New York 529 plans, other than the annual gift tax exclusion and 5-year gift-tax averaging. New York 529 plans have the highest cumulative contribution limit of $520,000 per beneficiary.

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New York 529 Plan Fees and Expense Ratios

New York 529 plans offer some of the lowest fees of any direct-sold 529 college savings plans.

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529 plans save families billions of dollars in federal income tax

529 plans experienced record growth over the past decade. The number of 529 plan accounts, total assets in 529 plans and 529 plan account balances have hit all-time highs. A study from Pew Research reports a 25 percent increase in 529 plan federal tax savings from 2017-2017, and a similar boost in state tax savings.

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Saving and Paying for College in New York

New York offers several college savings, grant and scholarship programs to help New York state residents pay for a public or private college education in New York.

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Massachusetts to Seed Newborn 529 Plans with Birthday Contributions

All children born or adopted in Massachusetts in 2020 and beyond will be eligible for the SeedMA Baby program. This program deposits $50 to the Massachusetts 529 plans of newborn and recently adopted children in the state. A Massachusetts 529 plan must be opened by the baby’s first birthday or within one year of the child’s adoption.

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Psst! Want to save $1,200 for college? Join Upromise.

Upromise is a loyalty program that rewards members with cash back for making purchases online, dining at restaurants or using the Upromise Mastercard. The rewards available through Upromise may seem small at first, but when deposited into a 529 plan they have the potential to grow into a significant amount that can help pay for college.

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Common College Savings Mistakes

Rather than make a deal with the devil, it is smart to save for college in advance. Even so, it is possible to make mistakes that affect the amount of college savings, the earnings, or the financial aid or tax impact of the college savings plan.

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Upromise revamps college savings program

Upromise, a program that allows members to earn money for college through everyday purchases, recently added new features and tools to simplify the college savings process. Upromise earnings can now be swept directly into any 529 plan, checking or savings account.

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College Savings Horror Stories

Saving and paying for college involves some scary statistics. A 4-year college education could cost as much as $500,000 when today’s newborn children are ready to enroll. But, even if you think you’ve got the costs covered, you may make a mistake that ruins your child’s future.

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Behind on college savings? Here’s how you can catch up.

With only 18 years to save and competing financial goals, many parents with good intentions fall behind on college savings. Although starting to save early is the best way to grow a 529 plan, there are some ways late-starters can catch up.

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The FAFSA’s Asset Protection Allowance Continues to Crash

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) shelters a portion of parent assets using an asset protection allowance (APA). The asset protection allowance has dropped significantly since peaking in 2009-2010 and continues to decline. If current trends continue, the asset protection allowance will evaporate entirely in the next five years.

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How to Pay for College

Paying for college is a complicated topic with an alphabet soup of acronyms like FAFSA, EFC and SAR. Parents worry about missing something important that will affect their child’s future. Thus, it helps to review all of the options for how to pay for college.

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Top 10 tips to growing your 529 plan funds faster

Every investor wants to find a magical method for speeding up savings and increasing the return on investment. With college tuition inflation rates averaging about 6% to 7% over the last few decades, there is even more pressure on parents who invest in 529 college savings plans. Here are our favorite secret solutions for accelerating the growth of 529 plans.

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Saving and paying for college in California

California offers several college savings, grant and scholarship programs to help California residents pay for college in California.

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Tax benefits of California 529 plans

California 529 plans offer the standard federal and state tax benefits, but do not offer any special state income tax benefits on contributions to California’s ScholarShare 529 plan.

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California 529 plan fees and expense ratios

California 529 plans offer some of the lowest fees of any direct-sold 529 college savings plans.

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Nice new app for filing the FAFSA

The U.S. Department of Education’s new App for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) makes the tortuous process easier, even fun.

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How to open a 529 plan in California

A step-by-step guide to enrolling in California’s 529 college savings plan makes the process easier for parents and grandparents to understand and implement.

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Free credit freezes

Consumers can obtain free credit freezes for themselves and their underage children starting on Friday, September 21, 2018, due to the passage of a federal consumer protection law earlier in 2018. Getting a credit freeze can help protect you from identity theft. Parents and graduate students should be aware of the possible impact of credit freezes on applications for the Federal PLUS loan.

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Millions of students still fail to file the FAFSA each year

Despite increases in the percentage of undergraduate students filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year, millions of students who would have qualified for college grants still fail to file the FAFSA.

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Dependency status on the FAFSA

Dependency status on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is based on many factors, including age, marital status, and military service. It does not depend on whether someone can claim you as a dependent on their federal income tax returns.

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How to prepare for filing the FAFSA

There are several steps that students and parents can take in advance to prepare for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a free form that is used to apply for financial aid from the federal government, state governments and most colleges and universities.

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How to apply for financial aid at more than 10 colleges on the FAFSA

The online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides space for applicants to list up to ten colleges. So, how do you use the FAFSA to apply for financial aid at more than ten colleges? This is one of the most common questions about the FAFSA.

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Tax Reform 2.0 legislation will let 529 plans repay student loans

The House Ways and Means Committee released legislative language for Tax Reform 2.0 on September 10, 2018. Among other provisions affecting 529 college savings plans, the legislation proposes to allow families to use 529 plans to repay student loans.

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Double your money with the rule of 72

The Rule of 72 is a simple rule of thumb for calculating how long it will take an investment to double in value. This, and other tricks of mental math, can help families figure out how to reach their college savings goals.

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Updated guide to 529 plans now includes K-12 and ABLE plans

Now in its 12th edition, "Savingforcollege.com's Complete Guide to 529 Plans" has been expanded to include information on the recent expansion of 529 plans. Updates have made to include K-12 tuition as a qualified 529 plan expense and a new chapter covering 529 ABLE plans for individuals with disabilities has been added.

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Parents turn to financial advisors for help with college savings

According to a new study from Fidelity, 64 percent of families said their financial advisor keeps them on track to meet college savings goals. Families who have a financial advisor are also more confident about their plan to save for college.

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Number of children with 529 plans

Surveys show that less than a third of parents are aware of 529 college savings plans. Even more shocking, however, is the number of children with 529 plans. Less than 18 percent of children under age 18 have a 529 plan.

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Is the Gerber Life College Plan a good investment?

The Gerber Life College Plan by Gerber Life Insurance promises guaranteed growth and the flexibility to use the money to pay for college or other expenses. But, the investment earnings are taxable and do not keep pace with college tuition inflation. The Gerber Life College Plan also offers inferior performance as compared with the return on investment available on FDIC-insured Certificates of Deposit and 529 college savings plans.

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Age of majority

The age of majority is the age at which a minor child legally becomes an adult. The age of majority may differ from the age of trust termination, when a child gains control over a custodial 529 plan account and UTMA accounts. The age of majority and the age of trust termination vary by state.

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California 529 plan contribution limits

There are no annual contribution limits for California 529 plans, other than the annual gift tax exclusion and 5-year gift-tax averaging. California 529 plans have a high cumulative contribution limit of $529,000 per beneficiary.

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Help raise awareness of the power of 529 plans

Help us spread the word about 529 plans by talking to your friends, relatives, colleagues and neighbors. We’ve created talking points and other helpful resources to get you started.

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529 savings plans and private school tuition

The 2017 tax reform package expanded 529 plan benefits to include tax-free withdrawals for private elementary, middle and high school tuition. The new law also allows traditional 529 accounts to be rolled into 529 ABLE accounts without taxes or penalty. This page includes all the information available on this and other new benefits of 529 plans as of January 1, 2018, and will be updated regularly as additional details become available.

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College savings rewards credit cards

Several credit cards offer cash back to help families save for college. These credit cards automatically contribute the cash rewards to linked 529 college savings plans. Each 529 credit card has a different percentage cash back and a different set of linked 529 plans.

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The truth about scholarships and 529 plans

Scholarships can help fill the gap when a family isn't able to save for their entire college bill, and they can put a coveted, more expensive school within reach. But just because you feel your child has a good shot at winning a scholarship one day doesn't mean you should hold off on saving with a 529. Here's why:

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Income share agreements

Income share agreements are an alternative to student loans in which the borrower agrees to pay a percentage of their income for a specified number of years after graduation. Income share agreements are also known as ISAs. The total payments under an income share agreement may be higher than the total payments under federal and private student loans.

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Coverdell ESA versus 529 plan

The Coverdell ESA offers superior investment flexibility, potentially lower costs, and tax free treatment for a wide range of elementary and secondary school (K-12) costs, compared to 529 college savings plans. However, the Coverdell ESA comes with limitations that could make a 529 plan more attractive for many investors.

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7 myths and realities of 529 plans

Although they’ve been around for years and continue to gain popularity, there are still many common misconceptions about 529 college savings plans. Here are our responses to 7 of the most popular myths

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The magic number for college savings

The day finally arrives when you get to bring your new baby home from the hospital. Maybe you've already given some thought to saving for her college education. If not, you can be sure that one of your friends will remark in a joking sort of way that paying for college in 18 years could put you in the poorhouse. So you ask yourself how much you really should be putting away for each month to prepare.

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8 common 529 plan mistakes to avoid

Don't let these 8 common mistakes throw you off from maximizing your 529 plan's savings potential.

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5 things to consider before doing a 529 plan rollover

There are a number of reasons why someone might want to change 529 plans. Perhaps your plan has been underperforming, or you maybe you moved and your new state offers a tax deduction for contributions. In the rare event that a state closes a plan, such as Tennessee's prepaid tuition program, account owners have the option to rollover their account value into a 529 college savings plan without penalty.

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Trump administration tax rule may kill school voucher programs

The IRS issued a proposed rule on August, 23, 2018 that may unintentionally eliminate much of the funding for school voucher programs. The new rule is intended to block attempts to circumvent a cap on federal income tax deductions for state and local taxes.

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Starting a 529 plan? Time to review your life insurance.

There are several reasons why a family might want to review their life insurance coverage when starting a 529 college savings plan, such as providing peace of mind and protecting family finances from unforeseen events. Your term life insurance policy should have sufficient coverage to fund the amount of future college expenses you plan to pay for.

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Do you need life insurance coverage for your 529 plan?

There are several reasons why a family might want to get life insurance coverage when starting a 529 college savings plan, such as providing peace of mind and protecting family finances from unforeseen events. A term life insurance policy is sometimes necessary to protect a 529 college savings plan account.

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Parents view college as a valuable investment, yet few plan ahead

Despite rising tuition costs, most families still believe college is a worthwhile investment. Yet when it comes to how they’ll pay for college, only 40 percent of families have a plan in place before the student enrolls, according to Sallie Mae’s How America Values College 2018 report.

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Can you use a 529 plan to pay off student loans?

Some students graduate with leftover money in their 529 college savings plan and would like to use this money to pay off all or part of their student loan debt. Unfortunately, student loans are not considered to be a qualified higher education expense for 529 plans under current law.

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Pitfalls of refinancing student loans

Beware the many pitfalls of refinancing student loans. Federal and private consolidation loans are fraught with hidden dangers and disadvantages that can present much peril for the unsuspecting borrower.

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How to qualify for refinancing student loans

Refinancing private student loans can be challenging, with few borrowers qualifying for a private consolidation loan. Approval depends on credit scores, income, debt-to-income ratios and other factors. Nevertheless, there are a few steps borrowers can take to increase their odds of being approved to refinance their private student loans.

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Top 10 direct-sold 529 plans: Q2 2018

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow provides information on the top 10 direct-sold 529 plans, including performance score, program manager and how to enroll. Based on 3-year performance as of 6/30/18.

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529 plan performance review: Q2 2018

Each quarter Savingforcollege.com analyzes the investment performance figures for thousands of 529 portfolios and ranks the 529 savings plans from best to worst for investment performance. These rankings include direct-sold and advisor-sold plans.

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Fidelity removes 529 investment minimums, reduces expenses on index funds

Fidelity Investments recently announced changes to their product lineup, which include removing investment minimums for 529 college savings plans and lowering expenses on existing index funds.

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Someday, “back-to-school” will mean “off to college”

Back-to-school can stir up many emotions. As you rush to get the supplies your kids need for the new school year, it can be a stark reminder that you’ll send them off to college one day. Yikes! You may not be prepared—emotionally or financially. Let’s explore how a 529 plan can help, at least with the finances.

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Top 10 ways to maximize 529 plan benefits

Enrolling in a 529 plan is an important step toward saving for a child’s college education. But, are you taking advantage of all that a 529 plan has to offer? Here are 10 things you can do to maximize the value of your 529 plan and get closer to meeting your college savings goals.

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Can a 529 plan be used to pay for college application fees?

Selective colleges charge college admission application fees of $40 to $90 each. With the addition of admissions testing fees, the total can be as much as $107 per college. That can easily add up to thousands of dollars if the student applies to an excessive number of colleges. So, it is not surprising that parents might want to use 529 plan funds to pay for college application fees and admissions testing fees.

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How do 529 plans work?

A 529 college savings plan is a specialized savings account that is used to save money for college. The money in a 529 plan may be used to pay for the college expenses and K-12 tuition of the beneficiary, tax-free. Many families find that 529 plans work well, helping them achieve their college savings goals.

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6 ways you can save for college

Learn about six common ways to save for college and the pros and cons of each: Mutual funds, custodial accounts, U.S. savings bonds, Roth IRAs, Coverdell ESAs and 529 plans.

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Can a Roth IRA be used to pay for college?

A Roth IRA can be used to pay for college, but there are some advantages and disadvantages when compared with using a 529 college savings plan to pay for college. Although a Roth IRA may offer some tax advantages, distributions from a Roth IRA can hurt eligibility for need-based financial aid.

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Can you use a 529 plan to pay for study abroad?

Distributions from 529 college savings plans can be used tax-free to study abroad, subject to certain restrictions. In particular, the distribution must be used to pay for qualified higher education expenses at an eligible educational institution. Eligible educational institutions include colleges and universities that are eligible for Title IV federal student aid.

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How to win more merit scholarships

There are several strategies that students can use to win more merit scholarships. These strategies include an expanded search for scholarships and improvements in the student’s academic performance.

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How to get more financial aid for college

There are several strategies that students can use to increase their eligibility for need-based financial aid for college. These strategies are based on the income, assets and demographics of the student and parents.

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What if you didn’t save for college?

What are your options if you didn’t save for college, or didn’t save enough? Clearly, families who save for college have more flexibility in paying for college, but there are still a few options available for families who didn’t save for college.

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10 easy ways grandparents can help pay for college

Many grandparents want to leave an educational legacy by helping fund a grandchild's college education. Grandparents recognize the value of education, and want to see their children graduate without excessive student loan debt. Learn about 10 different ways a grandparent can help pay for college, and the pros and cons of each.

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Finding the lowest-cost 529 savings plans

Savingforcollege.com's 529 Fee Study, updated as of July 23, 2018, showed that 529 fees continue to decline on average. When taking mean cost across the highest and lowest options, we found that mean fees fell 1.1% over the past six months.

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IRS offers clarity on recent 529 plan changes

The IRS and the Department of the Treasury recently issued Notice 2018-58, which announced their intent to issue regulations on recent changes to 529 college savings plans, providing clarity to 529 plan owners and administrators.

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New starting salary data can help parents set college savings goals

New data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) shows average starting salaries of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2017 are up slightly from the previous year. These figures can help parents determine how much they need to save for their child’s future college education.

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Tax reform 2.0 would allow parents to pay off student loans with 529 plans

House Republicans released an outline of “tax reform 2.0”, which builds on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Trump in 2017. It includes provisions that would allow tax-free withdrawals from 529 plans to pay for home schooling costs, apprenticeship fees and student loan payments.

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Comparison of 529 plans and Roth IRA for college savings

Both 529 college savings plans and Roth IRAs can be used to save for college. However, a 529 plan offers several advantages when the student enrolls in college and a Roth IRA is better when the student decides to not go to college.

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The 15 lowest-cost 529 savings plans

Looking for low 529 plan fees? These 15 plans offer the lowest costs, according to Savingforcollege.com's Annual Fee Study, conducted in February 2018. The Fee Study compares the lowest and highest 10-year expense totals for all direct-sold 529 college savings plans.

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Prepaid tuition plans

Prepaid tuition plans allow you to pre-pay future college costs today. There are currently 18 state-sponsored and one institution-sponsored prepaid plan (Private College 529 Plan), but only 11 are currently accepting new applicants, and nine of these have residency requirements.

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Student debt is postponing retirement saving. Here’s how to stop it.

Taking out student loans can be an effective way to bridge a college savings gap. But a new study shows that having student debt, no matter how much, has an impact on future retirement savings.

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5 tips for a tax-free 529 plan withdrawal

A non-qualified withdrawal from your 529 plan could mean having to pay income tax as well as a 10% penalty on the earnings portion of the distribution. These five tips will walk you through the withdrawal process and maximize the value of your college savings.

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What is the FSA ID?

The FSA ID is an electronic signature used to sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and federal education loan promissory notes. The FSA ID consists of a username and password. The FSA ID is sometimes called a FAFSA ID.

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How much to save for college

College is very expensive. College costs as much as a small mortgage, but without owning a home. Saving for college can help you pay for college costs and reduce student loan debt. The more you save, the less you need to borrow. But, how much should you save for college?

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Best 529 plans for gifting

Some 529 college savings plans make it easier for families to give the gift of college than others.

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Differences between federal student loans and private student loans

There are several important differences between federal student loans and private student loans, besides just the source of funds. These differences include cost, eligibility criteria, repayment options and safety nets. Generally, federal student loans are cheaper, more available and have better repayment options than private student loans.

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College Completion Pledge

The College Completion Pledge increases college graduation rates by securing a voluntary commitment from incoming college students to graduate on time.

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Should you use home equity instead of student and parent loans?

Consider the tradeoffs between home equity loans, home equity lines of credit and cash-out refinance, which may provide cost savings as compared with student and parent loans, and the greater risks if the borrower encounters financial difficulty.

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How to calculate GPA

A student’s grade point average (GPA) can have an impact on money for college. Grandparents might reward good grades with contributions to the grandchild’s 529 college savings plan. Eligibility for private scholarships might be based on the student’s GPA. Great grades and test scores can affect a student’s admissions chances at the most selective colleges and universities.

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What are sales charge breakpoints?

Some advisor-sold 529 college savings plans have up-front sales charges. For example, Class A shares may involve a sales charge of as much as 5.75%, but also involve lower annual expenses. A breakpoint reduces the sales charge on new investments when the total investments exceed a specified threshold.

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Does refinancing student loans really save a lot of money?

Lenders that refinance private student loans often advertise that borrowers save tens of thousands of dollars by refinancing their student loans. The savings figures are based on the average estimated reduction in total payments over the life of the loan. Are these savings real, or is this just a marketing gimmick?

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Reward good grades with 529 plan contributions

Rewarding good grades in high school with contributions to the student's 529 college savings plan may improve academic performance. It may also increase the odds that the student will enroll in and graduate from college.

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IRS Tax Return Transcripts

Applicants who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool may need to obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript if their FAFSA is selected for verification.

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The avalanche method beats the snowball method for paying off student debt

The snowball and avalanche methods pay down debt quicker by making extra payments. The snowball method applies extra payments to the loan with the lowest loan balance. The avalanche method applies extra payments to the loan with the highest interest rate. The avalanche method is more effective for student loans.

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IRS Data Retrieval Tool

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) allows applicants to transfer income and tax information from their federal income tax returns into the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), simplifying the FAFSA. Both students and parents may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

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Which is best: 529 college savings plan or Roth IRA?

It’s safe to assume that many families have added college planning to their list of financial resolutions for 2015. The average cost of sending a child to a four-year public university is over $75,000 today, which means if you have a young child you can expect to pay over $150,000 when their time comes. If you have more than one child or choose a private school, your total college costs could easily end up totaling more than the price of your home.

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How to transfer 529 plan funds to a sibling

There are a number of reasons why you might want to transfer 529 plan savings to a brother or sister. Some parents start with an account for their first child and want to split up the funds when the next baby is born. Or maybe one of your children decides not to go to college and you want to transfer the money to a younger sibling who will.

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Beware of student loan debt relief scams

Beware of any organization that charges an up-front fee or monthly fee for student loan forgiveness or other forms of student loan debt relief.

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Growth in student loan debt at graduation slows as borrowers hit loan limits

Increases in average student loan debt at graduation have slowed, based on an analysis of recently released federal government data. But, don’t start celebrating just yet. Borrowing has shifted from students to parents, especially at higher-cost colleges, because more students are reaching federal student loan limits.

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How to protect your 529 plan from online banking fraud

After 2017’s Equifax security breach, consumers are becoming more aware of the risks of sharing financial information online. But are families exercising the same caution with 529 savings plans?

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Ted Cruz introduces new bill to further expand 529 plan benefits

On June 21, 2018 Sen. Cruz introduced the Student Empowerment Act as an enhancement to his Student Opportunity Amendment, which was signed into law in December 2017 and allows families to use 529 plans to pay for K-12 tuition.

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IRS Verification of Nonfiling Letter

Applicants who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and who indicate that they or their parents will not file a federal income tax return may be required to obtain a Verification of Nonfiling Letter if their FAFSA is selected for verification.

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Teens fear student loan debt, want more skills training in college

The College Saving Foundation’s 9th annual How Youth Plan to Fund College survey revealed high school students are actively saving for college and are making smart decisions when it comes to school selection and areas of study.

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Everything you need to know about the Federal Stafford Loan

The Federal Stafford Loan, also known as the Federal Direct Loan, is the largest and most popular student loan program. The Federal Stafford Loans are low-cost loans borrowed by students to pay for their college education.

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Personal finance tips for recent college graduates

Now that you’ve graduated from college, it’s time to get started on the rest of your financial life. Tips on repaying student loans, building an emergency fund and saving for retirement will help you manage your money. But have you considered starting to save for your children’s college education?

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Top 5 mistakes to avoid when using a Coverdell ESA

A Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESA) is a trust or custodial account designed to help families pay for education. Just like a 529 college savings plan, a Coverdell ESA offers tax-free earnings growth and tax-free withdrawals when the funds are spent on qualified expenses. But there are certain limitations you should be aware of.

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The best way to withdraw 529 funds

If your clients' children are heading to college soon, it's time to start considering 529 withdrawal strategies. Here are some important tips to make sure your distribution is tax-free and penalty-free.

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How much life insurance do I need?

With life insurance, a broad rule of thumb is that you often need policy amounts equal to 10 to 15 times your annual income. Another way to determine your insurance needs is to add up current and future financial obligations and then subtract your savings, investments, and any projected earnings from your total need.

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Pet-friendly colleges

More than three dozen colleges allow dogs and cats on their campuses, even if they are not a service animal or emotional support animal. Other colleges limit students to fish, amphibians, lizards and small caged animals.

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Student loan forgiveness

Student loan debt may be cancelled through one of several loan forgiveness, loan discharge and loan repayment assistance programs. While it’s better to use college savings than student loans to pay for college, getting someone else to repay your student loans is almost as good an option.

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Is student loan forgiveness taxable?

Under current law, some types of student loan forgiveness and discharge are taxable and some types are tax-free. Student loan forgiveness that is conditioned or working in a particular occupation for a period of time is tax-free, as are some discharges.

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How to find scholarships for college

Scholarships provide free money for college. To win a scholarship, you must demonstrate some skills, such as chasing round objects on a field, creating a prom costume out of duct tape or getting great grades. But, before you can win a scholarship, you must find some scholarships. There are several free online scholarship matching services that can provide a targeted search for scholarships.

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Scholarships worth $100,000 or more

Some scholarships are so generous that they cover a big part of college costs. Every qualified student should consider applying to these scholarships. If they win one of these scholarships, they can afford to attend even the most expensive colleges and still graduate with little or no student debt. These scholarships eliminate cost as a barrier to college access.

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Everything you need to know about the Federal PLUS Loan

The Federal PLUS Loan is an unsubsidized federal education loan for graduate students and for parents of dependent undergraduate students. The Federal PLUS Loan, also known as a Federal Direct PLUS Loan, is available after the student exhausts eligibility for Federal Stafford Loans.

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What is the difference between grants and scholarships?

Grants and scholarships are both types of gift aid. Gift aid is money that does not need to be earned or repaid, unlike student employment and student loans. Although the words grant and scholarship are often treated as synonyms, there are important differences. Grants tend to be based on financial need, while scholarships tend to be based on merit.

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Adverse credit history

Eligibility for the Federal PLUS Loan, including both the Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS loans, depends on the borrower not having an adverse credit history. Determining whether a borrower has an adverse credit history depends on a recent credit check.

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Parents can use a 529 plan to pay for K-12, but most won't

Savingforcollege.com recently surveyed over 1200 parents who are saving for a child’s education to gain insight on how they use 529 savings plans and prepare their children for college. Most parents will not use a 529 plan to pay for K-12 tuition, but many will involve their children in enrichment activities such as sports, volunteering and summer jobs.

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5 ways to save for college this summer

Learn about five ways to save for college this summer with your child, no matter how old they are.

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6 life insurance mistakes to avoid

There’s a lot to know about life insurance. But some of the most important things to know are what not to do. Following are a few common mistakes many people make regarding their insurance needs.

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Don't let a 529 plan penalty stop you from saving for college

If you don’t use the money in a 529 college savings plan to pay for college, you’ll have to pay a penalty. Should the prospect of paying a penalty dissuade you from using a 529 plan?

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Second chance for public service loan forgiveness

The U.S. Department of Education has announced how borrowers who were in the wrong repayment plan may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). The second chance opportunity for loan forgiveness, called Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF), is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Congress passes private student loan protections

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, Congress passed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155), which includes new protections for student loan borrowers.

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Women owe about $1 trillion in student loans

According to a report published by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Deeper in Debt, women owe about $1 trillion in student loans, nearly two-thirds of the total outstanding student loan debt. Gender differences in college savings may contribute to the disproportionate student debt burden.

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1Q 2018 529 plan and ABLE data Highlights

1Q 2018 529 plan and ABLE data Highlights

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2018 tax benefits for Wisconsin parents

In April 2018, Wisconsin Senate Bill 798 was passed, which included two benefits for Wisconsin parents.

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Federally-insured 529 plan products: 2018 update

Savingforcollege.com has just published an update of FDIC-insured products in the 529 marketplace for 2018. The report, first published in 2017, compares the federally-insured investment options offered by 529 college savings plans.

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Trends in college savings

College savings are up significantly, according to the 2018 Sallie Mae/Ipsos survey, How America Saves for College. The average amount saved for college is up 11%, from $16,380 in 2016 to $18,135 in 2018.

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Don't waste your summers - Get ready for the Ivy League

The journey to an Ivy League school doesn’t begin during your senior year of high school. With admission rates ranging between 5–8% for top-notch schools, successful applicants must delve into their preparation early on. Here are some tips for intelligently using your summers to pave your path to the Ivy League schools.

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Quarterly 529 plan performance review: Q1 2018

Each quarter Savingforcollege.com analyzes the investment performance figures for thousands of 529 portfolios and ranks the 529 savings plans from best to worst. This Q1 2018 analysis describes the movement among plan rankings during the one-, three-, five- and 10-year periods.

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Top ten direct-sold plans Q1 2018

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow provides information on the top 10 direct-sold 529 plans, including performance score, program manager and how to enroll. *Three-year performance rankings as of 03/31/2018

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Interest rates on federal student loans increase for 2018-2019

Interest rates on federal student loans increase on July 1, based on the last 10-year Treasury Note auction in May.

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How to build grads’ college savings

Don’t waste time searching for the perfect graduation gift or writing another check. Instead, consider adding money directly to the graduate’s college savings account. It ensures the money gets put to good use on something meaningful and can grow over time.

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Home insurance goes to college

You can’t protect your young one forever, but you can make sure their stuff is financially protected. College is expensive enough — the right home insurance coverage is key to making sure you don’t have to pay for any unforeseen disasters.

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Should college applicants be concerned about their social media profiles?

Colleges may look beyond a prospective student’s application during their evaluation process. According to a recent survey from Kaplan Test Prep, 68% of college admissions officers consider social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram “fair game” when it comes to learning more about an applicant.

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When your client wants an age-based 529 plan with more equity exposure

With an age-based 529 plan, risk is automatically reduced at specific age or years-until-enrollment intervals, from equities to fixed income securities to money market type portfolios. But some clients aren't satisfied with the amount of equity exposure in age-based portfolios. Here's what you can recommend.

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It’s cheaper to save than to borrow

Although families can cover the cost of college with student and parent loans, it is less expensive to save for college in advance. Saving money in a 529 college savings plan also provides flexibility in college choice in addition to reducing the need to borrow.

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Parents regret not saving more for college

Most parents believe saving for college is a top priority, but many regret not saving more, according to a survey from Student Loan Hero. Learn how a 529 plan can help grow your savings and reduce the amount your child will have to borrow to pay for college.

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Which are the best student loans?

If your college savings don’t cover the full net price, you may need to borrow to cover your college costs. Your best option will be federal student loans.

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Advantages of receiving scholarships through a 529 college savings plan

Private scholarship providers may award scholarships as contributions to the recipient’s 529 college savings plan, instead of writing a check to the college or recipient. This practice will minimize scholarship displacement, expand the tax-free treatment of scholarships to include room and board, and allow scholarship money to grow tax-free.

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How to decipher a client's financial aid award letter

Financial advisors who help clients decipher financial aid award letters need to understand how they work. That includes knowing how the family will pay for all four years of college down to the penny, including the total amount of loans required and the resulting monthly payment upon graduation.

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Everything you need to know about Parent PLUS Loans

If you're a parent considering a PLUS loan to help pay for your child's education, read on for everything you need to know first.

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Socially responsible investing with 529 plans

Socially responsible investing (SRI) is a strategy that considers social or environmental factors in addition to financial return. However, families saving for education may have a difficult time finding SRI investment options within 529 plans.You may even find that your plan has exposure to gun manufacturers.

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529 plan state tax deduction loophole

If your state offers a state income tax benefit for contributions to a 529 plan, you can get a discount on tuition costs by making a contribution and taking a distribution the next day. This loophole can save you 3% to 10% of college costs, depending on the state.

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How to save for a child’s college education before the child is born

Opening a 529 college savings plan normally requires the Social Security Number of Taxpayer Identification Number of the beneficiary, which prevents parents from saving for college before the baby is born. However, a parent can set up the 529 plan and change the beneficiary after the baby is born.

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Expert advice on taking a gap year before college

Taking a gap year before college is popular among students in Europe, and has recently gained traction among U.S. students. But before packing your bags to an international destination, here are some things students should understand about taking a gap year.

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How to save for college and still get financial aid

There are countless reasons why families should save for college, yet some parents fear that having money set aside will hurt their child's chances of getting financial aid. But the reality is, you may still qualify for need-based financial aid even if your child has a college fund.

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Should your clients use their home state's 529 plan?

Is your client's home state's 529 plan always the best option? It depends, since each state has different 529 program parameters relative to potential state tax deductions or credits offered, if one is offered at all. Learn how to evaluate the options to find the best 529 for your clients.

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Pending 529 plan legislation

Pending legislation concerning 529 college savings plans in the 115th Congress (2017-2018) includes changes to contributions, the 10% tax penalty, tax-free rollovers, qualified distributions and the impact on financial aid.

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What is the best way to use 529 plan funds?

When using money from a 529 college savings plan to pay for your child's college education, should you spread the money out equally across all four years, or spend as much of it as possible during the first few years? Each strategy has a different impact on eligibility for need-based financial aid and education tax credits.

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Workarounds for grandparent-owned 529 plans

If a 529 college savings plan is owned by a dependent student or the dependent student's parent, it has a minimal impact on the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid. But, if the 529 plan is owned by anybody else, such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle, it will hurt aid eligibility. There are, however, a few solutions that will address the potential harm.

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How to increase qualified distributions from your 529 plan

Learn how to increase the limits on qualified distributions from a 529 college savings plan. Appeal to the college financial aid office to increase various allowances in the cost of attendance to match actual costs, such as allowances for textbooks, transportation, dependent care, off-campus rent and the cost of a computer.

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6-year gift tax averaging

5-year gift tax averaging lets you contribute five times as much money to a 529 college savings plan in a single year. There are, however, a few tricks that let you give even more money without incurring gift taxes, such as 6-year gift tax averaging, giving to the parents, giving the gap and giving to a different beneficiary's 529 plan.

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15 facts about financial aid eligibility

The financial aid system is so complicated that many families end up making costly mistakes on their applications. Here are 15 facts that can help you maximize your eligibility and reduce the amount you'll have to pay for college out of pocket.

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What? You can borrow for retirement?!

Some people argue that parents shouldn’t save for their children’s college education. After all, they claim, you can borrow for college but you can’t borrow for retirement. Hold on a second. You can’t borrow for retirement? Really? What about a reverse mortgage?

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Should you open an ABLE account for a child with a disability?

Individuals who are living with a disability have little incentive to plan for the future. Having even a modest amount in savings or assets can jeopardize eligibility to receive public benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). That is, unless the funds are held in a 529 ABLE account.

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Divorce can derail college savings

Even an amicable divorce can cause problems with a child’s college savings plans. Divorce attorneys are not financial aid experts. They may not be aware of all of the potential consequences of divorce on a child’s eligibility for financial aid or the nuances of need-analysis formulas.

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Is it ever a good idea to use retirement funds or home equity to pay for college?

When faced with the high cost of college, parents may be forced to consider using their retirement or home equity to help pay the costs. Here's why choosing these options should be done as a last resort.

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5 signs it might be time to refinance your student loans

Student loan refinancing could save some borrowers thousands of dollars over the life of their loans. Learn about 5 times when it might make sense for you.

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10 financial aid myths: What you don't know can cost you

Many families need help paying for college, but they are confused about how the financial aid process works and sometimes end up leaving money on the table. Here are 10 common costly myths about financial aid the truths behind them.

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How 7 different assets can affect your financial aid eligibility

Colleges and universities use the information from your FAFSA and federal tax return to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). However, not all funds are treated equal. The following slideshow explains the different effects that seven household assets can have on your financial aid eligibility.

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Yes, your 529 plan will affect financial aid

If you're considering using a 529 plan to save for future college costs, you may be worried about hurting your child's eligibility for federal financial aid. If so, you're not alone.

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How the kiddie tax may affect your clients

The Kiddie Tax applies to a child's investment income from custodial accounts, over certain thresholds. Your clients may want to consider using their existing UGMA/UTMA account to fund a 529 plan. Because earnings grow tax-deferred, and can be withdrawn tax-free, they avoid the Kiddie Tax entirely.

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6 must-know 529 plan rules

Many parents are confused about 529 plan rules. In our Annual College Savings Survey, we presented six true or false questions about 529 rules to visitors of Savingforcollege.com. See where the biggest misconceptions lie.

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A high schooler's guide to preparing for the Ivy League

While there's no set guideline that will lead you to a successful admission into your Ivy League school of choice, there are concrete decisions you can make now during your high school career that will increase your chances of getting in.

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Avoid these 529 withdrawal traps

Once you've entered the 529 withdrawal phase, it's important to understand the rules. Here are six mistakes to avoid so that you won't end up paying taxes or penalties.

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The best 529 plans: 5 Cap Ratings Q4 2017

Each quarter, Savingforcollege.com assigns 5-Cap Ratings to 529 savings plans, based on a variety of factors: Performance, Costs, Features, Reliability and Resident Upgrade. See the best 529 plans of Q4 2017 and learn about recent changes in rankings.

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New age-based investment strategies for college savings

Two new investment strategies can improve the return on investment for 529 college savings plans without significantly increasing the investment risk. In some cases the investment strategy may even reduce investment risk.

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Top 10 reasons clients aren't saving for college - and how to respond

When asked why they aren't saving more for college in a 529 plan, clients will typically give one of these 10 excuses. Here are some ways financial advisors can address their concerns and stress the importance of planning for future education costs.

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Quarterly 529 plan performance review: Q4 2017

Each quarter Savingforcollege.com analyzes the investment performance figures for thousands of 529 portfolios and ranks the 529 savings plans from best to worst. This analysis describes the movement among plan rankings during the one-, three-, five- and 10-year periods.

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Top 10 direct-sold 529 plans

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow provides information on the top 10 direct-sold 529 plans, including performance score, program manager and how to enroll. *Three-year performance rankings as of 12/31/2017

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529 funding strategies for K-12 private school tuition

Help clients take advantage of new potential tax savings by developing an effective 529 funding strategy for K-12 private school tuition costs. With a relatively shorter time horizon and $10,000 annual withdrawal limits, a new calculator is recommended when paying for private elementary and high school expenses.

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Scholarship displacement: When winning scholarships means losing financial aid

Scholarship displacement happens when a college or university reduces a student's financial aid award after they receive private scholarships. When evaluating financial aid award letters, be sure to consider the college's outside scholarship award policy in determining net price.

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When it comes to 529 plans, parents just don't understand

A study from Fidelity shows more parents are saving for college than ever before, but they are still confused about how 529 savings plans work. By missing out on these key benefits, including federal (and sometimes state) tax savings, and favorable financial aid treatment, they could be leaving money on the table.

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529 plans: Not for kids only

With the economy in flux and more adults than ever heading back to school for retraining, you may want to consider setting up a 529 plan for yourself in addition to, or instead of, one for your young children.

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Case study: Could a 529 state tax deduction offset the costs of a non-qualified withdrawal?

529 plan expert Vince Sullivan explains how a 529 plan can present a tax-deferred opportunity for clients, even if they aren't planning on using it for qualified education expenses. Find out if a state tax deduction could offset the costs of taxes and penalties owed after a non-qualified withdrawal.

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4 times millennial parents should consider a 529 plan

Should all young parents have 529 savings plan? Maybe not, but it might make sense if you’re in grad school, your state offers a tax deduction, you want to give a financial gift or you’re already on track for retirement.

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Don't save for retirement: When to ignore traditional college savings advice

As college costs continue to rise, it might be smart to divert some of your retirement savings dollars into a college savings plan. Without savings, middle-class families have few options besides taking out large student loans. Learn how you can put away money for college and without compromising your retirement.

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Expert tips on managing money before, during and after college

Personal finance expert Sam Renick interviews Christine Benz, director of personal finance at Morningstar. Ms. Benz offers advice for parents and students on the best ways to manage money before, during and after college. She discusses balancing financial goals, college return on investment and saving for college with a 529 plan.

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What you can pay for with a 529 plan

529 plans offer tax-free withdrawals when the funds are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses. In general, this includes costs of attending an eligible post-secondary educational institution. Starting January 1, 2018, this definition is expanded to include up to $10K per year in tuition for K-12 schools.

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Don't count on a 529 state tax break for K-12 tuition

The new tax law expands the benefits of 529 savings plans to include K-12 tuition as a qualified expense. But will these withdrawals be eligible for state tax benefits?

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8 steps to start living your ideal financial life in 2018

Financial wellness starts by developing a healthy relationship with money and personal finance. These 8 steps will help you get your finances on track for 2018.

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College Financial Aid: 7 EFC Myths Debunked

A family’s Expected Family Contribution is based on information a family reports on the FASFA, and determines financial aid eligibility. Here’s why it’s important for financial advisors to understand EFC.

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New tax law brings big changes to 529 plans

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes a small provision that would allow 529 plans to be used for K-12 tuition, and allow rollovers into ABLE accounts.

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Final GOP tax bill expands 529 plans: Here's who will benefit

The final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes a provision to allow families to save for K-12 expenses with 529 plans. Here’s who would see the biggest impact.

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Top ten direct-sold plans

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top 10 list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *Three-year performance rankings as of 09/30/2017

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2017 ten-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the ten-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2017.

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2017 five-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the five-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2017.

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2017 three-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the three-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2017.

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2017 one-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2017.

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2017 plan performance rankings Q3

Savingforcollege.com's 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of September 30, 2017 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

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Case Study: Grandparents and 529 superfunding

The concept of Superfunding refers to using the 5-year election to frontload a 529 plan gift. Learn how this strategy can help grandparents reduce their estate tax exposure.

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The magic number for college savings

Learn how much to invest each month in a 529 college savings plan to cover future costs of tuition, fees and room and board for private and public schools.

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College savings: The gift parents want, but won't ask for

If you're looking to boost college savings, asking for 529 gifts should be a no-brainer. Here are some tips on how to bring up the topic with friends and family.

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10 Things You Need to Know About College Net Price Calculators

With a net price calculator, you’ll discover how much a college will cost your family once any merit scholarships or financial aid is subtracted from the cost of attendance.

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What your education tax benefits may look like in 2018

The IRS recently announced federal tax updates for 2018, which would affect some education related benefits. Find out how these changes could affect your college savings.

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Credit freezes and financial aid

In the wake of the recent Equifax security breach, many people have taken the prudent step of freezing their credit. Learn how this could affect the financial aid process.

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GOP bill would eliminate Coverdell ESAs and make 529s more flexible

Learn how proposals included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could change 529 plans and Coverdell ESAs, and how it might affect your college savings strategy.

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Check out Morningstar's best 529 plans, but don't stop there

Whether you're looking to open your first 529 plan or just checking up on a current investment, you want to make sure you're using the most reliable source of information.

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College costs way more than parents think

Although more parents are saving for college than ever before, many are doing so without a realistic goal in mind. If this sounds like you, it may be time to rethink your strategy.

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529 plans and Gen Xers: College planning for the forgotten generation

Helping clients prepare for future college costs has become an integral part of holistic financial planning. Here are four opportunities to grow your practice by helping Gen X clients plan for college.

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How much can you contribute to a 529 plan in 2018?

While the IRS doesn't specify a dollar amount for annual contributions limits for 529 college savings plans, here are some guidelines making a deposit in 2018.

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The complete guide to choosing a college major

Once you’ve applied and been accepted into college, it’s time to select your major. A college admissions experts offers helpful tips for parents and students.

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Introducing the Pro 529 Evaluator

The Pro 529 Evaluator is a tool designed to help financial advisors confidently recommend a 529 college savings plan to their clients. Compare fees, performance, state tax benefits and more.

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10 things to do before you apply for financial aid

The FAFSA will be available October 1st for the 2018-19 school year . Learn about 10 steps to take before you apply to help maximize financial aid eligibility.

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Despite high student loan balances, Millennial parents are saving for college

Millennials are saving more money than other generations, even with student loan debt. But it’s what they’re saving for that’s been making recent headlines.

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Commentary: North Dakota changes impact 2nd quarter performance rankings

We rank plans that consumers can enroll in directly, as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners for the second quarter 2017.

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How to select a 529 plan

Learn how to select the best 529 college savings plan in four easy steps; Savingforcollege.com has calculators, 529 plan rankings and ratings to help you.

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2017 plan performance rankings Q2

Each quarter Savingforcollege.com analyzes the investment performance figures for thousands of 529 portfolios and ranks the 529 savings plans from best to worst for one-year investment performance, three-year investment performance, five-year investment performance and ten-year investment performance.

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2017 ten-year top performing direct plans Q2

Savingforcollege.com ranks the ten-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of June 30, 2017.

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2017 five-year top performing direct plans Q2

Savingforcollege.com ranks the five-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of June 30, 2017.

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2017 three-year top performing direct plans Q2

Savingforcollege.com ranks the three-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of June 30, 2017.

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2017 one-year top performing direct plans Q2

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of June 30, 2017.

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2017 plan performance rankings Q2

Savingforcollege.com's 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of June 30, 2017 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

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Breaking down the Minnesota 529 state tax benefit

Families in MN are eligible for a tax deduction or credit for their 529 plan contributions. Learn how to choose the right option for your client's college savings strategy.

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15 states with the biggest 529 tax breaks

Saving for college? Check out your home state’s 529 plan. Here are the 15 states that offer residents the most generous tax deductions and credits for contributions.

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New study: FDIC insured 529 plans

This study reviews and compares 529 college savings plans insured by the FDIC, including yield and costs of savings portfolios and CDs.

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How much is your state's 529 plan tax deduction really worth?

In addition to federal benefits, many states offer full or partial state tax deductions for contributions to a 529 plan. This map helps you get a better idea of how much your state's tax benefit may be worth.

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3 takeaways for professionals from "How America Pays for College"

Professionals and advisors to college savers can benefit from the insights the study offers when promoting their services, educating clients, and growing their 529 plan businesses

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Achieving financial wellness: 7 questions to ask

Financial wellness starts by developing a healthy relationship with money and all areas of personal finance. These questions will help you gets started on your journey.

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Celebrate College Savings Month!

A list of special events and promotions offered by states and 529 plans during College Savings Month.

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4 college admission myths every applicant should know

The college admission landscape is constantly evolving. Learn about four key college admissions myths to be aware of when completing your college applications.

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Kids & college: Leveraging 6 milestones to generate savings

Learn about six life events that serve as trigger points for you to check in on your 529 account and use a college savings calculator to make sure you’re on track.

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The 15 lowest-cost 529 savings plans

Don’t let fees and expenses shrink your college savings. Here’s a list of the15 lowest cost direct-sold 529 plans, based on our semi-annual Fee Study.

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Finding the lowest-cost 529 savings plans

Savingforcollege.com's semi-annual 529 Fee Study compares the lowest and highest 10-year expense totals for all direct-sold 529 savings plans. The purpose of our study is to give you an easy way to view and compare these cost estimates.

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FAQ on 529 investment changes

The IRS permits only two investment changes within a beneficiary's 529 account in any calendar year. Here are some answers to frequently-asked questions regarding this limitation.

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These top colleges are worth the investment

Money’s 2017 list of best colleges for the price shows where to get the biggest bank for your buck. See the top 10, and how to save for them with a 529 plan.

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Just released: Latest 529 plan 5-Cap Ratings

Savingforcollege.com's latest 5-Cap Ratings are now available. These Ratings are calculated based on performance, costs, features, reliability, and a "Resident Upgrade" score as of March 31, 2017.

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Where does a college degree have the biggest impact on your income?

Where you decide to live and work after graduating from college can influence your annual earnings. This infographic gives you a state by state breakdown of the value of a degree.

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A worthy investment? America’s highest paying jobs under the microscope.

The value of a college degree will depend on a number of things, including tuition costs and starting salary after graduation. Learn which degrees offer the best value for students in 2017.

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3 ways your online presence can support your college application

Social media plays an important role in college recruiting and admissions. Learn how your online presence can positively contribute to your application strategy.

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It's never too late to start your college plan

It’s never too late to start saving for your child’s college education. Here are some tips for late stage planning strategies that won’t jeopardize your retirement.

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5 college planning questions to ask during annual reviews

Make sure your asking these questions in your annual review with your clients regarding their college savings.

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How to maximize the value of your college campus tour

When visiting colleges, many prospective students limit themselves to participating in only an information session and official tour, but one expert says that’s a mistake. Find out why.

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Experts say this is how much you should save for college

A college degree could cost over $200,000 one day, but that doesn't mean you’ll pay that much out of pocket. Three experts give their advice on how much to save in a 529 plan.

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What Trump's proposed budget cuts could mean for college savers

President Trump’s new budget proposal focuses on simplifying federal student loan options and financial aid. See how this could affect your college savings strategy.

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Top ten direct-sold plans

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top ten list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *Three-year performance rankings as of 03/31/2017

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A look at the recent NAST symposium

Every year the National Association of State Treasurers hosts its own 529-focused conference. Here are some of the outcomes - in brief - from that event.

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New! 529 ABLE plan detail pages

Looking for information on a specific ABLE savings plan? Our new plan details pages highlight important information on each available plan, including fees, tax benefits and investment options.

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Commentary: First Quarter 2017 plan performance rankings

We rank plans that consumers can enroll in directly, as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners) for the first quarter 2017.

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Trending in 529 plans: Compliance-friendly share classes (2/2)

C to A Convertibles are better than either of their predecessors, despite minor drawbacks. Find out why.

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The expenses of the student commuter vs. living on campus

A large portion of your total cost of college includes living expenses. Learn how these costs can really add up - whether you commute or live on campus.

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May 29 - 529 Day

Many states are promoting May 29 (5/29) as a day with special meaning, and are looking to boost interest and participation in their 529 savings programs with various sweepstakes, contests and incentives.

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Picking the right financial advisor for your college planning strategy – What to ask

Just like any other investment, families saving for college could benefit from the help of a financial advisor. Here are 3 things to ask before you select one.

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4 steps to help your child manage student loan repayment

College graduates often begin their careers with substantial student loan debt. Here are four ways you can help your child with a repayment strategy.

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NEW! Summary PDF reports for 529 plans

Savingforcollege.com is pleased to offer new plan summary pages for college savers and professionals

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Free college is here - But don't stop saving

Some states are beginning to offer free college tuition for residents. Here’s what you need to know, and why it’s still important to save with a 529 plan.

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Washington RFP responds to questions from bidders

Washington state has responded to questions from bidders, providing some insight into the structure of its GET plan.

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10 states with the fastest rising college tuition

Since the Great Recession, state appropriations to higher education have been at historic lows.

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5 things advisors need to know about 529 withdrawals

With some 529 plans over 20 years old, more account owners are taking withdrawals. But there are some important things you need to know before requesting that check.

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Planes de ahorro 529 y matrículas en escuelas privadas

La ley de reforma fiscal del 2017 añadió ciertos beneficios al plan 529 para incluir retiros libres de impuestos para matrículas de escuelas de educación primaria o secundaria privadas, públicas o religiosas. Además, la nueva versión de esta ley permite que las cuentas tradicionales de 529 puedan realizar transacciones a otras cuentas ABLE sin impuestos o penalidades. Esta página incluye toda la información disponible acerca del tema y cualquier otro beneficio reciente de los planes 529: data de 1 de enero de 2018 y será actualizada con regularidad a medida que otros detalles se hagan disponibles.

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Want to help your child get into college? Take a step back.

When it comes to a student's college application process, new research suggests that too much parent involvement can end up doing more harm than good.

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5 signs it might be time to refinance your student loans

Student loan refinancing could save some borrowers thousands of dollars over the life of their loans. Learn about 5 times when it might make sense for you.

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Opinion: The generification of 529 products

In the arms race for the lowest-cost plan, 529s have fast started to become a commoditized product. Is there room left for innovation?

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Raising city kids? 8 states where you can save the most money

If you want your kids to grow up in an urban environment and still have room for college savings in your budget, check out these 8 low-cost cities.

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Where to start when choosing a 529 plan?

An important question to ask is whether you will invest in a 529 plan directly, or will you use a financial adviser? Your answer to this question will help narrow down your choices, as about half of all 529 plans are sold through brokers.

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Where to start when choosing a 529 plan?

An important question to ask is whether you will invest in a 529 plan directly, or will you use a financial adviser? Your answer to this question will help narrow down your choices, as about half of all 529 plans are sold through brokers.

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How Private College 529 works

Private College 529 is a unique animal in the college savings space, and their strategy reflects their novel position. Here we provide insight into how they approach college savers.

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A guide to finding your best SAT date

A college admissions expert offers helpful advice on how to select the best date to take the SAT exam, taking other important deadlines into account.

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Private College 529 and college savings plans: A perfect pair

The Private College 529 Plan can be an excellent complement to a 529 savings plan. Here’s how using these two vehicles together can help maximize savings.

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The anti-529ers revisited: Haters gonna hate

There are some people that are thoroughly convinced 529s are a bad bet. Here we explore why.

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College Savings Tips with Julie Shields-Rutyna

Join Brian Boswell and the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA)’s Julie Shields-Rutyna for a live Facebook event, Tuesday, February 28th. Brian and Julie will be taking questions from the audience on topics like 529 plans, financial aid and more.

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2016 one-year top performing direct plans Q4

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of December 31, 2016.

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2016 plan performance rankings Q4

Savingforcollege.com's 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of December 31, 2016 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

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Commentary: Fourth quarter 2016 plan performance rankings

We rank plans that consumers can enroll in directly, as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners) for the fourth quarter 2016.

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Top ten direct-sold plans

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top ten list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *Three-year performance rankings as of 12/31/2016

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How to Achieve the College Dream Live Q&A Event

Some students who perform well academically, but are hesitant to apply to selective colleges because of their social or economic backgrounds. In this live Q&A event, Maria Carla Chicuen, author of Achieve the College Dream, offers practical advice on how students of all income levels can make their dream school a reality.

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H.R. 529 offers big benefits to college savers

New legislation might make 529 plans more alluring, but will it actually pass?

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6 things to consider when selecting an ABLE account

529 ABLE plans help individuals with disabilities save tax-free for future expenses without forfeiting benefits. Here are 6 things to know before choosing a plan.

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The importance of summer vacation in the road to college

The most selective universities often require applicants to write at least a short paragraph describing the academic or extracurricular activities in which students have participated during the summer vacations throughout high school.

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Opinion: Betsy DeVos is a bad bet for education

The appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education has raised many eyebrows, and deservedly so.

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What advisors need to know about the CSS profile

Investors are increasingly turning to their financial advisors for help with college planning. Here's what you need to know about the CSS Profile.

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Expert advice on taking a gap year before college

Taking a gap year before college is becoming popular among U.S. students. An admissions counselor shares expert advice on how to decide if it’s right for you.

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Committing to College Savings: How to Make Your Financial Resolution Stick

For those of us on the road towards saving for our children’s college education, sticking to your saving goals may be more manageable than we think.

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9 college savings tips to start the year off right

The New Year is the perfect time to review your 529 college savings plan strategy. Learn about how these nine tips can help achieve your goals in 2017.

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I withdrew too much 529 money. Now what?

What happens if you withdraw too much money from a 529 college savings plan? Learn how to avoid paying taxes and penalties and keep your savings intact.

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Asset Allocations in Age-Based Portfolios - Direct

A Savingforcollege.com study looks at how direct-sold 529 plans allocate among stocks, bonds, and money market (or similar) investments as the beneficiary gets close to college age or is in college.

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Asset Allocations in Age-Based Portfolios - Advisor

A Savingforcollege.com study looks at how advisor-sold 529 plans allocate among stocks, bonds, and money market (or similar) investments as the beneficiary gets close to college age or is in college.

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How to calculate your state tax benefit

You can plug the numbers into our State Tax Calculator, but how do we arrive at those numbers? Here we dig into the weeds.

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Industry chatter: A look ahead at 2017

This was the year of the Fiduciary Rule, roboadvisors, and money markets. What will be the big topics among 529 plans in the year ahead?

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Are 529 plans REALLY tax-free?

Sometimes, even professionals can be fooled by complex tax code language. In fact, some of it reads like 529s might not actually be tax-free!

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What you can do in middle school to start preparing for college

Middle school is a great time to start preparing for college. Here are steps to take during sixth, seventh and eighth grade to become a competitive applicant.

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Do you need college tuition insurance?

Parents who want to protect their investment have the option of purchasing tuition insurance that could help them recoup some of the costs if their child was to withdraw from school.

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3 ways the PSAT will help your college admission chances

While taking the PSAT/NMSQT won’t directly influence college admission decisions, there are still three important benefits students can get out of it.

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Top college savings stories of 2016

2016 was another big year for the college savings industry. Our top stories covered 529 withdrawal strategies, the presidential election, financial aid and more.

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Save it forward: States that allow you to carry benefits into future tax years

There are a few states that allow account owners to make a large contribution and claim their tax benefit in future years.

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How to determine the ROI on a college education

Factors to consider when helping a child understand a college degree’s return on investment (ROI) that will help minimize the future burden of student loan debt.

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529 plan contribution deadlines for state tax benefits

Over 30 states offer a tax benefit for 529 college savings plan contributions. Find out your state’s contribution deadline to reduce your 2016 taxable income.

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The Best Way to Save For College Live Q&A Event

Second only to retirement, planning for your children’s college education is one of the most important financial decisions your family has to make.

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How much could you save for college by not buying these top toys?

Putting the money into a college fund is something that should be on everyone’s mind this holiday season. Learn how much you could save by not buying toys this year.

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The January Question

Can we reimburse ourselves out of our child's 529 plan without be subject to taxes or penalty?

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What does the future hold for prepaid tuition plans?

Virginia529 prePAID may consider changing its structure to limit new participants to in-state schools. So are prepaid tuition plans still viable?

Read more
Does a financial advisor deserve their 529 commission?

One of the most common questions from advisors is, "How can I justify my fee?" But it shouldn't be a question at all.

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5 education changes we might see under President Trump

President-elect Donald Trump was relatively quiet about education policy during his campaign, but here are five key changes we might see under his presidency.

Read more
2016 one-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2016.

Read more
2016 plan performance rankings Q3

Savingforcollege.com's Q3 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of September 30, 2016 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

Read more
Top ten direct-sold plans

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top ten list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *Three-year performance rankings as of 09/30/16

Read more
Commentary: Third quarter 2016 plan performance rankings

We rank plans that consumers can enroll in directly, as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners) for the third quarter 2016.

Read more
Top colleges aren’t just for the rich

In her new book, Maria Carla Chicuen explains how students can earn a degree from a prestigious college - even if they don’t come from a wealthy background.

Read more
Wealthfront 529 Plan Launches

Robo-advisor Wealthfront launched its first 529 college savings plan at the beginning of November. But how does the Plan stack up? And what does this mean for traditional advisor channels?

Read more
Exceptions to the withdrawal penalty

Sometimes a non-qualified withdrawal is unavoidable, but there are some situations where your client may be able to avoid the 10% penalty.

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17 states where day care costs more than college

In 17 states, full-time day care costs more than college. Find out if your state made the list and how to saving in a 529 when your child starts elementary school.

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Just announced: Best 529 plans for 2016

Savingforcollege.com and Morningstar both rank 529 plans. Here's why it's important to explore them both.

Read more
Oops, I withdrew too much 529 money!

There are many situations where an account owner can accidentally withdraw too much money. Here’s what you can do

Read more
Tax parity isn't as important for investors as once thought

Only two states have passed a tax parity law since 2008. So does it still matter?

Read more
A Tale of Two 529 Mistakes

What to do when a client takes a distribution when they didn't mean to, or forgot to file the 5-year election

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Study shows 2/3 of families consider price when selecting a college

The 2016 "How America Pays for College" report reveals that for many students and families, the choice of college is largely influenced by tuition and other costs.

Read more
What grandparents need to know about the new FAFSA rules

Learn how recent changes to the FAFSA could make it easier for some grandparents to help pay for college without impacting the student's financial aid eligibility.

Read more
Six Winning Strategies to Cutting the Cost of College

The absolute best way to make college more affordable for your family is to become an educated college consumer.

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A tax strategy that will surprise you

This article explains a scholarship tax strategy you may not have thought about.

Read more
How much can you contribute to a 529 plan in 2016?

As we enter the final months of 2016, many families are trying to make the most of their tax-advantaged savings accounts. If you're saving for retirement, you're allowed to deposit up to $5,500 to an IRA ($6,500 if you're over age 50) and up to $18,000 to an employer-sponsored 401(k). But what about college funds? That's where it can get tricky. While the IRS doesn't specify a specific dollar amount for annual contribution limits to 529 college savings plans, there are some rules you should be aware of if you're considering making a large deposit this year

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How much can you contribute to a 529 plan in 2016?

Make the most of your tax-advantaged savings accounts.

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Where does Donald Trump stand on college affordability?

Donald Trump has made several statements related to student debt and rising college costs. Find out how these ideas might turn into proposals if he is elected.

Read more
Omnibus Part III: Omnibus-Light and the Future

Omnibus accounting in the retail space is widely accepted as standard for most asset management products, and will be critical to most large and mid-sized broker-dealers as it is slowly implemented with 529 plans. But what about everyone else?

Read more
What the new FAFSA rules mean for you

Some big changes are in store for the federal financial aid process. Here’s what you need to know before the filing season launches on October 1, 2016.

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How to earn college credit without ever setting foot on campus

Even before enrolling in a four-year university, high school students can get a head start on earning college credit.

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Kaplan to offer FREE online PSAT prep course

Kaplan Test Prep recently announced the upcoming launch of a free Preliminary SAT (PSAT) prep course for all students., which will cover each area of the exam, including Reading, Math, Writing and Language.

Read more
Yes, your 529 plan will affect financial aid

33 percent of parents and grandparents believe that a 529 plan is not considered when determining financial aid eligibility. See if they're right.

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12 simple ways to prepare a student to win college scholarships

No matter how old or young your children are, there are ways you can prepare now to help them win future college scholarships.

Read more
Is your state giving away free money for college?

Check out our growing list below of College Savings Month events taking place all over the country.

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New study: Are men too confident about college savings? Or are women too pessimistic?

According to Savingforcollege.com's Annual College Savings Survey, a person's gender may impact the way they save and pay for college. What's more, these differences may exist across a broader spectrum of financial attitudes and behaviors.

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5 ways to help your child navigate the student loan process

Applying for student loans can be a stressful and confusing process. Here's how parents can help their kids get started with the process.

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Massachusetts to offer 529 state tax deduction

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently signed House Bill 4569, 'An Act relative to job creation and workforce development' into law on August 10, 2016. The primary role of the bill was to promote economic development for the state. However, it also included a new tax benefit for families saving for college. Residents will be able to deduct up to $1,000 in contributions to a Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) U.Fund from their state income tax (up to $2,000 for married couples filing jointly) beginning January 1, 2017 through the 2021 tax year, when the deduction is scheduled to expire. This announcement comes as a welcome surprise to families, as other states have found it challenging to sustain or initialize a 529 tax benefit. Ideally, we would like to see other states follow in Massachusetts's footsteps, but historically this hasn't been the case.

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Massachusetts to offer 529 state tax deduction

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently signed House Bill 4569, "An Act relative to job creation and workforce development" into law on August 10, 2016.

Read more
Top ten direct-sold plans

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top ten list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *Three-year performance rankings as of 06/30/16

Read more
2016 plan performance rankings Q2

Savingforcollege.com's Q2 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of June 30, 2016 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

Read more
2016 one-year top performing direct plans Q2

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of June 30, 2016.

Read more
Commentary: Second quarter 2016 plan performance rankings

We rank plans that consumers can enroll in directly, as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners) for the second quarter 2016.

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Washington College to award scholarship match to 529 plan contributions

In a first of its kind scholarship, Washington College will pilot a program that matches up to $2,500 per year that families contribute to a 529 college savings plan or Coverdell Education Savings Account.

Read more
529 ABLE accounts: Your questions answered

Advice on helping families meet the financial challenges associated with living with a disability, and how to maximize the benefits of 529 ABLE accounts.

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8 things to know going into your freshman year of college

It's important to maintain perspective as you enter college and the transition to adulthood. These tips from Ivy Advisors will help ease your anxiety and prepare you for your freshman year.

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Study reveals parents could have saved $20,000 more for college

Fidelity Investments' launched their 10th Annual College Savings Indicator Study.

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Think twice before sending clients to a direct-sold 529 plan

Financial advisors are increasingly viewed by clients as their guide to achieving their college savings goals. Financial advisors, however, are challenged by the paperwork-intensive, and - sometimes - low asset size of 529 plans. To make their lives easier, some advisors have found it simpler to forego the commissions on the asset base of 529 plans and refer their client to a direct-sold plan. However, this can be outright dangerous for both the advisor and client: Here's why.

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Cosigners are helping borrowers get better rates on student loans

For students taking out private loans to cover college funding gaps, having a cosigner not only improves the odds of being approved for a loan, but can help borrowers obtain a better interest rate, an analysis of Credible user data shows.

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A guide to applying for scholarships

This guide will help you navigate the world of college scholarships and win the awards you need to pay for your school of choice.

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How the kiddie tax may impact your clients

The Kiddie Tax is one of the most overlooked pieces of tax code until it hits your high-net worth client. Prepare them before they are impacted.

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How to gain financial-aid expertise

Let’s face it. Nearly all of your clients with school-aged children are concerned about college financial-aid eligibility, whether or not they should be. By that I mean many of your clients will never qualify for needs-based financial aid, simply because their income is too high. Yet they may still turn to you, their financial advisor, for guidance. Here's how to quickly gain financial-aid expertise.

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New tool helps you pick the best investments for college

Just like your 401k or IRA, your 529 plan’s performance will be based on its underlying investments, so it’s important to select the right combination of potential risk and reward to meet your needs.

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Using multiple 529 plans

There are several reasons why someone might want to open accounts in more than one 529 plan.

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Understanding 529 expenses

An explanation of the four major categories of 529 plan fees and expenses and how to compare between plans.

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How to select investments in a 529 plan

When setting up a 529 savings plan, you’ll need to choose an investment option. Learn about the three different types of options available and how they can help you meet your goals.

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Hillary Clinton's plan for free college: Will you still need to save?

Hillary Clinton recently introduced an expanded proposal to her original “College Compact,” which would make college more affordable and outstanding debt more manageable. But how realistic are the proposals? Do they go too far, or not far enough?

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Savings opportunities for students with special needs

Saving for a child’s or grandchild’s college can be complicated, but things become even more complex when that child has a disability. Learn about the different ways to plan for their future education and the best ways to save for it.

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Best student loan options for parents

There are many types of student loans, offered both by the government and private lenders. Here's what parents need to know.

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A High Schooler's Guide to Preparing For the Ivy Leagues

While there’s no set guideline that will lead you to a successful admission into the Ivy League, there are four things to focus on during your high school career that could increase your chances of getting in.

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Does your school’s accreditation mean anything?

It is extraordinarily rare that the DoE stop recognizing an accreditor, so much so that they’ve put up a blog post dedicated to explaining its impact.

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Omnibus Part II: Challenges to implementation

Omnibus accounting is widely accepted as standard operating procedure for most retail asset management products. Yet many 529 Savings plans remain, for the most part, staunch hold-outs: Here's why.

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12 money rules to live by

If you're tired of the "on the one hand this, on the other hand that" approach to financial advice, check out these guidelines I've collected over the years. Perhaps you’ll find some one-size-fits-all advice that suits you.

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4 tips on making the most of summertime college visits

Summer is a great time of year for you to see firsthand if a college is the right school for you. Here are four recommendations to help you get the most out of your summer campus visits.

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Updated study: 529 asset allocations vary widely

A recently-updated study conducted by Savingforcollege.com reveals significant variations in the asset-allocation approach to underlying age-based portfolio options.

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Congress aims to improve and simplify 529 plans

Lynn Jenkins first introduced H.R. 529 as a first step last year and now H.R. 5193, the 529 and Able Account Improvement Act.

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The Wealthfront 529 College Savings Plan: Is college investing with a robo-advisor right for you?

Recently announced state-sponsored 529 college savings plan to complement its existing suite of investment products, see what this means for families saving for college.

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5 ways to tell if you're using the wrong 529 plan

There are over 100 different 529 plans available - so how can you be sure that you’re using the best plan to suit your family’s needs? Here are five red flags to look out for:

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Commentary: First quarter 2016 plan performance rankings

We rank plans that consumers can enroll in directly, as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners).

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The magic of beneficiary changes

Changing the beneficiary of a 529 plan in conjunction with an investment change or rollover is very useful in getting around the limitations placed on these types of account changes.

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Top ten direct-sold plans

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top ten list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *Three-year performance rankings as of 03/31/16

Read more
College Savings by the Numbers

Think about how much you want to save for college, the strategies you’re using to do so, and any extra steps you can take to boost your efforts.

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2016 plan performance rankings Q1

Savingforcollege.com's Q1 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of March 31, 2016 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

Read more
2016 one-year top performing direct plans Q1

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of March 31, 2016.

Read more
Are parents getting savvier about saving for college?

The results of two recent surveys reveal that there's still an opportunity for Savingforcollege.com and financial advisors to educate families about the importance of including college savings in their overall financial plan.

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Saving For College: Start to Finish

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. Here's a primer to help you set up a plan.

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Money Market Reforms and 529 Plans

Additional rules were released in 2014, and will be enforced later this year.

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Should you use your employer-sponsored 529 plan?

Companies become more aware of the importance of financial wellness, some are also starting to help save for future college bills.

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Ascensus and Wealthfront Pursuing Roboadvisor Solution in Nevada

Wealthfront has partnered with Ascensus College Savings to pursue a private labeled product.

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Don't Let Your Student Loans Hold You Back – 5 Ways to Tackle Your Debt

Graduates are delaying major life milestones because of their student loan debt.

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Proposed Bill Would Change the Game

The Boost Saving for College Act (Boost) was introduced to the Senate at the end of April by US Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Bob Casey (D-PA). Boost is designed specifically to incent low- and middle-income families to start saving for college by enhancing 529 and 529A benefits.

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Will taking a gap year help me get into the Ivy League?

Increase awareness of the gap years, and their benefits.

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The price of procrastination: 7 reasons to start saving today

I haven't had time to research and/or understand the best options; I don't have enough money to save; My child is a newborn; I've procrastinated.

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Success story: How I became debt-free just two years after graduation

A real-life story from one of our readers who successfully tackled high college costs.

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Saving for college: It's not just about the numbers

The best savings plan for college really differs for each family.

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5 simple ways to teach a young child about college

How exactly do you talk about college with your kindergartner?

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Omnibus: What it is and why advisors should care

Omnibus is a word a lot of people in the asset management industry toss around, but not a lot of people understand.

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6 things to consider if your child is going to college overseas

Cost shouldn't be the only factor to consider if your child wants to attend college overseas.

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Which Standardized Test Should You Take - the ACT or SAT?

Today, both the SAT and the ACT are accepted by four-year universities.

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How the Fiduciary Rule Impacts 529 plans

The U.S. DOL (Department of Labor) unveiled new rules that are, in aggregate, widely-referred to as "The Fiduciary Rule."

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New 529 ABLE accounts may offer even more benefits for people with disabilities

The ABLE Act gives Americans with disabilities the opportunity to save up to $14,000 per year in a tax-deferred account similar to a 529 college savings plan as a supplement to their government benefits.

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7 states where you can still claim a prior-year 529 plan tax deduction

Residents of these seven states can reduce their prior-year taxable income by making contributions to a 529 college savings plan before the April deadline.

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More Americans are saving for college with 529 plans

There are a number of different ways to save for future college costs.

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Everything You Need to Know About Parent PLUS Loans

If you’re a parent considering a PLUS loan to help pay for your child’s education, read on for everything you need to know first.

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Introducing the new and improved SAT

The SAT exam has undergone a major renovation.

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Study shows Maine students who receive state grants for college are more likely to graduate

States also encourage residents to earn a degree, viewing a college education as a driver of economic and social mobility.

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Introducing the new and improved SFC community forum

Our readers can share tips, ask questions and get advice from each other on our newly designed community message board.

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AP vs. IB: Which Program Is Best for You?

Both AP and IB programs give high school students the opportunity to earn college credit and become better prepared for higher education.

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Student loan debt vs. investments: What to prioritize

Eliminating debt is always beneficial, could focusing too much on paying back those college loans actually be bad?

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How to save for college and still get financial aid

There are three things that will determine how much aid a student will qualify for:

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2015 one-year top performing direct plans Q4

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of December 31, 2015.

Read more
2015 plan performance rankings Q4

Savingforcollege.com's Q4 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of December 31, 2015 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

Read more
Top Ten Direct-Sold 529 Plans*

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top ten list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *Three-year performance rankings as of 12/31/15

Read more
Five things to know about 529s and financial aid

To help clear up any confusion, here are a few things to remember about how 529 plans are treated under the federal aid formula.

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Are college admissions officers checking out your profile?

According to a new survey from Kaplan Test Prep, today’s college applicants should be careful what they post to Facebook and Instagram.

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Busting the top 7 myths about prepaid tuition plans

To help you better understand the prepaid tuition plans and how they work, here are some common myths and the facts that bust them.

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Small Changes Can Lead to Big College Savings in 2016

There's no better time than the present to bolster your college savings.

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Win $500 from the College Savings Foundation!

The College Savings Foundation (CSF) is continuing their contest this month for families who use 529 plans.

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Navigating 529 plans through a rough market

Industry experts share their advice on how to handle clients who have stock market jitters.

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Expert tips on handling your 529 plan in a shaky market

What does a stock market downturn mean for your college savings plan? Find out what the experts have to say.

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Here's how you can help your child pick a college major

Thinking about a future career path is an important step in the college planning process that sometimes gets overlooked in the midst of filling out college applications and figuring out how to pay the tuition.

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Saving for college? You could win $500!

The College Savings Foundation (CSF) is running a new contest for families who save with 529 plans. Enter today!

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Should 529 plans be able to cover pre-K through 12 expenses?

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush recently announced an education plan that would include expanding the benefits of 529 college savings plans.

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4 tips to make the most of scholarships

The same vigilance that was used to earn a scholarship is critical if you're going to use the money properly. Here are four tips for helping students get the most out of their reward.

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College savings: What's in, what's out?

Here are some trends to watch out for to make sure you’re maximizing the savings potential of your 529 plan.

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10 financial aid myths: What you don't know can cost you

Many families need help paying for college, but they're confused about how the financial aid process works and sometimes end up leaving money on the table. Here are 10 common costly myths about financial aid the truths behind them.

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How satisfied are consumers with their 529 plans?

According to Sallie Mae’s How America Saves for College 2015, 27% of American families saving for college are using 529 plans. But how happy are they with their plans?

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How to pay your college tuition bill with a 529 plan

Now that you've saved for college with a 529 plan, learn about the best ways to take a withdrawal and make your first tuition payment.

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Just released: Latest 529 plan 5-Cap Ratings

Savingforcollege.com provides a 5-Cap Rating to each plan to help investors evaluate their college savings options as of September 30, 2015.

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Top college savings stories of 2015

Here's a list of our most-read articles of the year, and many offer tips and advice that can be used throughout 2016 as well.

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New tax bill brings improvements to education benefits

Families saving for college with a 529 plan may want to review their 2015 qualified expenses.

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5 important money lessons from a celebrity dad

Mark Steines, of Hallmark Channel's Home and Family, tells about the five most important money lessons he's teaching his kids.

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The truth about college scholarships and 529 plans

What happens to my 529 if my child gets a college scholarship?

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New study from Fidelity shows why money for college makes a smart gift

How soon will your kids lose interest in the toys they receive this holiday?

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Changes to 529 plans may be coming soon

Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, filed a bill to extend a variety of recently expired or soon to expire tax provisions.

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10 holiday traditions you can start this year

What better way to celebrate the holiday season than with a new tradition? Here are 10 festive ideas that will help make the season memorable for your family.

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Seven items for your year-end 529 checklist

The fourth quarter of the year is the most important time to review your clients' 529 plans.

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Conquering the Admissions Interview

Consider the following tips to help you master your admissions interview.

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How much can you contribute to a 529 plan in 2015?

Make the most of your tax-advantaged savings accounts.

Read more
Top Ten Direct-Sold 529 Plans*

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top ten list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *Three-year performance rankings as of 09/30/15

Read more
2015 ten-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the ten-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2015.

Read more
2015 five-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the five-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2015.

Read more
2015 one-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2015.

Read more
2015 plan performance rankings Q3

Savingforcollege.com's Q3 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of September 30, 2015 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

Read more
Parents vs. politicians on cutting college costs

One of the few things the 2016 presidential hopefuls agree on is that the cost of higher education and rising levels of student loan debt have become major issues. Learn more.

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Prepaid college savings plans: Here's what you need to know

Prepaid tuition plans allow you to pre-pay future college costs today. Learn more

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10 ways to find scholarships

Parent or student looking to fill your college savings gap without having to borrow, here are 10 places you can look to find scholarships.

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5 year end tax tips for college savers

Parents and grandparents who use 529 plans to save for college are eligible for a number of tax benefits. This checklist will help you maximize your savings in 2016.

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Using 529 plan savings to pay for a gap year

Are there benefits to participating in a gap year program?

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5 ways to spend leftover 529 plan money

It's every parent's dream: your child gets a gigantic scholarship to college and you've got thousands of dollars leftover in your college savings account. What to do?

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23 best value colleges for budget-conscious students

The U.S. Department of Education has compiled a list of the 23 colleges that offer the lowest net prices and highest potential incomes after graduation.

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Considering community college? Here are the pros and cons

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid excessive student debt.

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11 myths and realities of scholarships

Believe it or not, you may qualify for multiple scholarship opportunities, learn more.

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Morningstar awards "Gold" rating to four 529 plans

Morningstar and Savingforcollege.com offer helpful tools that can help you sift through the hundreds of 529 plan options available to help find the most suitable investment for your clients’ needs.

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Just announced: Best 529 plans for 2015

Ever wonder how your 529 college savings plan stacks up against the competition? One way to evaluate how your plan is performing is to check Morningstar's latest 529 plan ratings.

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Tapping your 529 plan to pay bills

A good rule of parenting is to expect the unexpected. Yet, according to Bankrate, only 22 percent of Americans had enough money saved to cover six months of expenses in the event of an emergency, and 29 percent had nothing saved. So what happens if your family suffers from a sudden job loss, medical bills or damage to your home? In times of need, those without a liquid emergency fund sometimes view their 529 college savings plans as a source of cash. In some cases, this could be a viable option. According to Joe Hurley, CPA and founder of Savingforcollege.com, with a 529 plan 'You're not locked in, you can get at your money, and if your account has losses, you have some flexibility.'

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Tuition prices of top football colleges: AP Top 25 Poll

Since a football scholarship might not be in everyone’s future, we’ve listed the tuition prices of the schools that made up the AP Top 25 Poll in week eight.

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Tapping your 529 plan to pay bills

Taking money from a 529 plan can have serious tax consequences and penalties. However, the collapsing stock market may provide some positive aspects to those who choose to make a withdrawal. Here's what to think about as you examine your choices.

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How much financial aid will you get? Use this tool to get an idea

One thing every student should absolutely do when applying to college is to apply for federal financial aid. Fortunately, we have an easy tool to help you estimate how much aid might be available.

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7 myths and realities of 529 plans

Although 529 college savings accounts have been around for years, there are common misconceptions about the plans. Learn the truth behind these seven myths and you'll set yourself up for smarter college investing.

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The new SAT essay: Does your dream school require it?

The short answer is maybe, but probably not. The College Board's new version of the SAT will roll out in March, which includes a newly structured, optional essay portion.

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Top 6 advisor misconceptions about 529 plans

It’s time to clear up the confusion about the most common misconceptions and see how 529 plans can benefit your clients.

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Investing trends of 529 college savers

Find out how other 529 account owners are investing in their plans, and learn some best practices to help you make better choices for your own 529 plan investments.

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5 habits of successful college savers

If you're looking to maximize your savings potential, there's more to it than blindly socking money away. Here are six habits of truly successful college savers.

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How to Save for College in the Big Ten States

Just for fun, here’s a look at college savings plan options from the 11 states that are home to Big Ten college football teams:

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Six steps to landing in the Ivy Leagues

If your child has their hopes set on attending an Ivy League school, it's important to start preparing early on. Lulu Curiel of Ivy Advisors shares six tips to pave your path to the Ivy League schools.

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The biggest college planning mistake parents make

How much debt should parents and students take on?

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Five simple steps to enrolling in a 529 plan

Wondering just to how go about opening a 529 plan? You're not alone! According to our 2nd annual Annual College Savings Survey, 86 percent of those who intend to open a 529 plan don't know the steps involved. Don't worry - we're here to help!

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Don't Let These Myths Muddle College Savings

See the results of Fidelity recently College Savings Indicator Study.

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How to make 'Lazy Money' start working to save for college

One idea for advisors looking to deepen client trust and relationship levels is identify so-called 'lazy money' sitting in parent or grandparent accounts, and recommend repositioning those resources to shore up a college savings gap.

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How Obama's new FAFSA rules will change college savings

The president has recently made changes to the FAFSA which could make saving for college easier for some families. Here are four common examples of how assets used to save for college can affect financial aid.

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#TBT College savings: Then and Now

For the past nine years, Fidelity’s College Savings Indicator Study has revealed just how much American families are putting away for college. Read more.

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76 percent of families have college funds by first grade

According to new data from the College Savings Foundation, more and more parents are saving for college while their child is still very young. Here's why starting to save early and using a 529 plan is a winning combination.

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Student loan refinancing tips, myths and savings

We all know that you can refinance a mortgage or even an auto loan, but consumers are just starting to realize that you can refinance student loans, too. And if you know where to look the savings can really add up.

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Six must-know 529 plan rules

Even with all of the recent publicity surrounding 529 plans, many families are still confused about how they operate. Click through this slideshow to view the biggest misconceptions according to this year's Annual College Savings Survey.

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Earn bonus cash for college this month

Find extra money to put away for college. Learn more.

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How 7 different assets can affect your financial aid eligibility

Before you fill out the FASFA, learn how seven different assets, including 529 college savings plans, can impact your federal financial aid eligibility.

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5 types of students who benefit from 529 plans

No matter what "type" of student you’re saving for, a 529 plan can be an excellent way to plan for college expenses. Click through our slideshow to see how a variety of students can each benefit from a 529 plan.

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When should you switch 529 plans?

Federal tax law allows you to roll over any or all of your 529 account from your current 529 plan to a different 529 plan, but only once in any 12-month period. (You can get around the 12-month restriction by naming a different family member as beneficiary of the 529 plan you are rolling into.) If you violate the 12-month rule, you must treat the transaction as a nonqualified distribution and pay federal tax and 10% penalty on accumulated earnings.

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When should you switch 529 plans?

There are several good reasons for some 529 plan participants to consider doing a rollover. Here are the most common.

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5 things to consider before doing a 529 plan rollover

Before you make any changes to your plan, ask yourself these five questions.

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6 ways you can save for college

To help those families out there who may not have all the time they want to research their options for saving for college, we’ve listed six common ways you can start a college fund, and the biggest pros and cons of each.

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Eight reasons why grandparents love 529 plans

If you’re a grandparent there are a variety of different ways you can help pay for college. Here are eight reasons why we think saving with a 529 plan could be your best bet.

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Surprising facts about scholarships

But before you apply for a student loan, why not explore the idea of scholarships?

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5 tips to crafting the perfect essay

College admission essays fill the gap between you and your test scores. Learn useful strategies when crafting your essay:

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75% of college savers don't know how to invest their 529 savings

When it comes to selecting investment options, many clients would benefit from the guidance of a financial advisor, read more:

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10 rules for superfunding a 529 plan

This article describes how to make a large contributions to a 529 plan under the special 5-year gift-tax election.

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The best way to withdraw 529 funds

It will soon be time to pay your bill for fall semester expenses! Here is some advice for how much and when to withdraw 529 plan funds, and also some tips on designating the distributee.

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Avoid these 529 withdrawal traps

Once you've entered the "withdrawal phase," of your 529 plan, be sure you make the right decisions when tapping your 529 account. Here are six mistakes you'll want to avoid.

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Want to land a great job? Here's where you should go to school

According to hiring managers, these are the top 10 colleges in the U.S.

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31% of college savers are wrong about this rule

We recently surveyed over 300 college savers and found out that many are still unsure about some important rules regarding 529 plan investing.

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5 changes to the SAT and how parents are reacting

Did you know a new version of the SAT will be launching in March?

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How Dollar-Cost Averaging can protect your 529 savings during a stock market slump

If you find that your 529 plan is performing poorly, you generally have a few different options, learn more.

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5 tips to keep your back-to-school grocery budget in check

Here are some tips on how to feed your family this school year without going broke.

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Who can open a 529 plan?

Here are six examples of people who would benefit from opening a 529 plan and how.

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2015 ten-year top performing direct plans Q2

Savingforcollege.com ranks the ten-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of June 30, 2015.

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2015 five-year top performing direct plans Q2

Savingforcollege.com ranks the five-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of June 30, 2015.

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2015 one-year top performing direct plans Q2

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of June 30, 2015.

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2015 plan performance rankings Q2

Savingforcollege.com's Q2 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of June 30, 2015 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

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Top ten direct-sold 529 plans*

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top ten list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *One-year performance rankings as of 06/30/15

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37 best college memories from the '90's

Your child deserves the chance to make his own list of college memories one day.

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Intro to College Savings - Lesson 5

Part of Savingforcollege.com's special 5-day course on Section 529 college savings plans. Lesson 5: Maximizing financial aid eligibility

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Intro to College Savings - Lesson 4

Part of Savingforcollege.com's special 5-day course on Section 529 college savings plans. Lesson 4: Involving grandparents, other relatives and friends

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Intro To College Savings - Lesson 3

Part of Savingforcollege.com's special 5-day course on Section 529 college savings plans. Lesson 3: Shopping for a 529 Plan

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Intro To College Savings - Lesson 2

Part of Savingforcollege.com's special 5-day course on Section 529 college savings plans. Lesson 2: 529 vs. Coverdell vs. UTMA vs. Everything Else

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Intro to College Savings - Lesson 1

Part of Savingforcollege.com's special 5-day course on Section 529 college savings plans. Lesson 1: How much do you need to save for college?

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Lacrosse or Kumon? Which activities best prepare a young child for college?

Many believe that certain activities will give their child a leg up on the competition when it comes time to apply for college.

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10 things to know before you take an online course

Before enrolling in an online course, get the facts. Here are the top ten things you should know about e-learning.

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Is student debt motivating young parents to save for college?

While the common perception is that student debt is a barrier to college savings, new survey data suggests it may actually have a positive effect on young parents' drive save for college.

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4 things to watch out for when applying to a top school

If you have high hopes for sending your child to an Ivy League college, watch out for these common mistakes that can cost your child an acceptance letter.

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Being Smart about Recommendation Letters Before Senior Year of High School

What is one of the most useful steps young students can take to improve their chances of getting into a top school?

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6 ways to help your clients maximize financial aid

How can I make sure that my client get the most financial aid possible?

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Part One: Yup, college is a huge waste of money.

Here's a great example of someone who gave college a try and wasn't too happy with the results.

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100 weird scholarship ideas

Worried that your student is out of the running to receive scholarships to help pay for college? Fear not! There is plenty of scholarship money out there - you might just have to get a little creative.

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4 ways to get your kids involved with saving for college

Looking for ways to get your kids involved in saving for their future college education while they're young? Here are some creative ideas that have worked for other families.

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Top 5 mistakes to avoid when using a Coverdell ESA

If you want to start saving for elementary school, high school, or college, a Coverdell is one of your best options. But before you decide to open an account, be sure to look out for these five common pitfalls.

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Top 5 financial considerations when selecting childcare

How has the high cost of childcare affected family budgets and savings goals, and what can families do to soften the blow?

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Study reveals parents need more help saving for college

How can you as an advisor help your clients achieve the education goals they have for their children? Here are a few things to think about.

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How you can help your child ace the SAT or ACT

It's never too early to start preparing for the SATs or ACTs. Lauren Gaggioli, Founder of Higher Scores Test Prep, shares her insights on what it takes to make the grade on these high-stress standardized tests.

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5 youngest shark tank entrepreneurs

Think it's tough to make it big on the hit ABC show "Shark Tank"? Click through our slideshow to see some of the youngest entrepreneurs who have been successful.

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I won't qualify for financial aid, but I still need help paying for college

What can you do if you make too much for financial aid, but not enough to pay for college out of pocket?

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Should I pay for private elementary school or save for college?

Is it more important to pay for education now, or save for college?

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7 money management tips to save more for college

Boost your college savings efforts, with the following seven money management tips can help get you off on the right foot.

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Top 10 financial mistakes millennial parents make

Millennials carry a heavy student debt burden, worsened by the effects of a tough job market. And now they're having babies. Here are the top mistakes that will prevent these young parents from meeting financial goals.

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10 easy ways grandparents can help pay for college

One way grandparents can help their grandchildren on their journey to becoming successful adults is to help fund their college education. Here are ten ways to do this, and the risks and benefits of each.

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Saving for college? These 6 mistakes can cost you

The best time to start saving for college is as early as possible, but most families have no idea where their newborn baby will attend college in 18 years. Because of this, parents often start a college fund with modest contributions of $25-100 a month – with no clear end goal in mind.

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Saving for college? These 6 mistakes can cost you

Parents can maximize their child’s education savings by learning about 529 plan rules and avoiding these six costly college planning mistakes.

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Record-keeping for your 529

One of the under-appreciated conveniences provided by a 529 plan is that you don’t have to keep your own records showing the history of your contributions and withdrawals.

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How younger students can build a competitive profile for the Ivy League schools

It's never too early to start thinking about your child's college application. Here are some things you can do now to prepare your child for the Ivy League.

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Will you spend too much this 4th of July? Depends on where you celebrate.

According to Wallethub, the average household is expected to spend around $346.50 on Independence Day this year. Costs will add up quickly, especially if you plan on traveling. Here is a list of the best (and worst) cities to celebrate the 4th of July this year.

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Can I use my 529 plan to buy electronics?

A question that’s been on the minds of families for some time now is whether or not “supplies and equipment” includes electronics such as computers, smartphones and tablets.

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8 common 529 plan mistakes to avoid

529 college savings plans are great investments, but they're not foolproof. This slideshow reveals eight of the most common errors people make when choosing, investing in, and withdrawing from 529 plans.

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College Savings Timeline: Time to get in gear

Even if your child has less than 18 years until college, you still have plenty of time to grow significant savings. Here are five things to focus on if college is 10 years away.

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[VIDEO] What is a qualified expense?

These are all common questions we hear from families related to 529s.

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5 characteristics of high school students heading to college

Students are more concerned than ever about the price of college and many are trying to avoid student loans. Here's a breakdown of why they're so motivated, and what they're doing to make their dreams a reality.

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College Savings Timeline: New beginnings

For those of you who are about to enter the world of parenthood – Congratulations! Believe it or not, this is the ideal time to start a college savings fund. Here are five steps to get started today.

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A 529 client you don't want to overlook

Have you been giving millienials enough attention? Here are a few tips on how you can tailor your approach when working with this younger generation and their college savings needs.

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Alfred E. Neuman's Guide to 529 Plans

You may meet resistance when recommending 529 plans to your clients stemming from certain fears and misconceptions about how these college savings programs work.

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Shortcut to comparing 529 investment option details

All the details are laid out in the official program descriptions, but wading through those details when each 529 plan presents them differently in their materials is a difficult and time-consuming task.

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Five questions to ask yourself when choosing a college savings strategy

College can be one of the largest expenses a family will ever face. There are a number of different options available to help you reach your goal, and here are a few things to consider before choosing the one that’s right for you.

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7 things you may not know about student loan repayment

If you're one of the 40 million Americans who currently have an outstanding student loan, click through this slideshow to see seven important facts about how repayments work.

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5 Ways to Save for College this Summer

Here are five easy ways kids can save money for college during summer break.

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How much can parents really save for college by giving up Starbucks?

Giving up five trips to Starbucks and one meal out per week you could save enough to cover a full year of private school tuition in 18 years.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] Top Misconceptions About College Savings: Do You Know the Answers?

Our annual survey revealed that many families are still confused about how 529 plans work. Learn about the biggest misconceptions.

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Is it a mistake not to hire a financial planner?

When it comes to planning and saving for college, some families prefer to endure the journey alone, but others are willing to pay for professional guidance. DIY college planning may work for some, but here are 6 things you might be missing out on by not utilizing a financial professional.

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Is Online College a Cheaper Option for Your High School Grad?

If the coming months include college for your son or daughter, you're likely facing the dilemma of how to pay some steep tuition costs.

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How one summer of reading can help your kid succeed all year long

Keep your child active this summer by enrolling them in a summer reading program, and you could be eligible to win a 529 account worth up to $1,529! TIAA-CREF has partnered with libraries around the country to offer summer reading programs in many states.

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Can 529 savings be used to pay for summer courses?

Taking summer courses is a great way for students to get ahead and possibly graduate sooner. And yes, you can pay for most summer classes with 529 savings and still maximize tax benefits. Here are a few things to consider:

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Don't waste your summers - Get ready for the Ivy League

If your child has their hopes set on attending an Ivy League school, it's important to start preparing early on. Lulu Curiel of Ivy Advisors shares some tips on how to use this summer to help you pave your path to the Ivy League schools.

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10 expert savings tips to make the most of summer

Now that summer's finally here, are you planning a busy and fun-filled next few months for your family? Here are 10 tips from the experts to help you plan for a memorable summer without draining your bank account

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Is your child headed for the Ivy League?

Tens of thousands of students from all over the world apply to Ivy League schools each year. Take this quiz to see if your child is on track.

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529 Day Webcast Recap

Did you miss our 529 Day live Q&A webinar? Here's a recap of all the great college savings topics that were covered.

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10 things you need to know about getting scholarships

When students are searching for scholarships, they must keep the following 10 things in mind to save time and reduce frustration.

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Coverdell ESA versus 529 Plan

Although it has been around since 1998--when it was called the Education IRA--the ESA has long been overshadowed by the 529 plan. Well, its time may have come.

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It Pays to Start Saving: 5 Ways to Get Started Now

Saving 100% of what you need for college may be difficult, any savings will open options and reduce the need to take on student debt.

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The 10 states with the fastest rising college tuition

Tuition prices have been rising across the country, but some states have experienced sharper increases than others. If you're planning to send your child to one of the following ten states, you might want to consider increasing your 529 plan contributions.

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Top ten direct-sold 529 plans*

The highly-anticipated Savingforcollege.com 529 plan rankings are here! This slideshow features our most recent top ten list of direct-sold 529 plans for one-year investment performance. *One-year performance rankings as of 03/31/15

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529 Day Webcast - Meet the experts

Don't miss our 529 Day Webcast taking place on May 29th! Learn more about the panel of leading industry experts who will be answering your college savings questions.

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Ask an Expert: Should I still use a 529 plan to save if I am unsure of my child's higher education plans?

Parents often delay opening a 529 account because of uncertainty regarding their child's plans for higher education. Marguerita Cheng of Blue Ocean Global Wealth explains how parents can still benefit from 529 plans even if their child doesn't end up needing the funds.

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2015 plan performance rankings Q1

Savingforcollege.com's Q1 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of March 31, 2015 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

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2015 one-year top performing direct plans Q1

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of March 31, 2015.

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Just who is Joe Hurley anyway?

And how does he know so much about 529 plans?

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5 groovy college lessons from Mad Men

AMC's hit period-drama 'Mad Men' is coming to an end! For a fun twist before the finale, take a look at this list of lessons that can be learned about saving for college from our favorite Mad Men characters.

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9 tips on getting into an Ivy League School

Tens of thousands of students from all over the world apply to Ivy League schools each year. Getting into a dream school can be difficult, but it is not impossible. To improve chances, a student must understand the admissions process and make a real commitment to academic and extracurricular activities. As with most things, knowledge is power. Here are some tips for students striving to get into the Ivy League college of their dreams

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9 tips on getting into an Ivy League School

Getting accepted to that dream Ivy League college can be difficult, but it's not impossible. Here are some tips on navigating the admissions process from International College Counselors CEO Mandee Heller Adler.

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Are you a financially savvy parent?

As a parent, you have a lot to think about on a daily basis - but how much thought are you giving to your household finances? Start here by taking this quiz to find out if your family finances are on the right track!

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529 reasons to save for college with a 529 plan

We're celebrating 529 Day this year in a BIG way by compiling a list of 529 reasons to open a 529 plan! To kick things off, here are some great reasons from a few of our favorite industry experts.

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9 ways America's college savings habits have changed

Sallie Mae's 2015 'How America Pays For College' report is fairly consistent with 2014's findings in how American families prepare for the costs of higher education. Here are 9 changes in some saving attitudes and behaviors that we thought we worth noting.

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Ask an expert: Can I use 529 plan funds to pay for college and get the American Opportunity Tax Credit?

The IRS rules regarding the coordination of 529 plan withdrawals and education tax credits can get a little tricky. Marguerita Cheng elaborates on this frequently-asked question.

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5 ways to ease client concerns about paying for college

If you have clients with children under the age of 18, you need to be thinking about college. Learn more about the recent Gallup poll.

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7 ways to prepare a child with autism for college

In honor of Autism Awareness Month this April, here are seven things a you can do to make the dream of college a reality for a child with autism.

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How to pay off student loan debt while saving for the future

Over 40 million Americans have student loan debt. Is it possible to build savings while paying down your loans? Guest blogger Robert Farrington, Founder of The College Investor, tells us how.

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This year's top 10 best and worst jobs

Looking for a little motivation when it comes to saving for college? This year's list of the best and worst jobs of 2015 should remind you just how important that college education will be in helping your child or grandchild to achieve the job of his or her dreams.

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Are U.S. Savings Bonds still an effective way to save for college?

Way back before smart phones, Netflix and Facebook, many families were using savings bonds as a way to set aside money for college. If you're still holding on to your bonds - is it time for an upgrade?

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How to get socially responsible with 529 plans

Happy Earth Day! Did you know that you can help preserve the environment by saving for college? Here are four investment managers that offer Socially Responsible Investment options through 529 college savings plans.

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Ask an expert: How can I move my funds from one 529 plan to another without incurring taxes?

The IRS allows one tax-free rollover of a 529 account per beneficiary in a 12-month period. If you violate the 12-month rule, the transaction is considered a non-qualified distribution and subject to federal income tax, not to mention a 10% penalty on the earnings.

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Mint.com expert interview on paying for college

We recently had the opportunity to share our advice on funding higher education with Mint.com in their Expert Interview series. In honor of Financial Literacy Month, read though this interview to learn some great tips on the best ways to pay for college.

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Ask an expert: How can I move my funds from one 529 plan to another without incurring taxes?

There are many reasons for considering a change in 529 plans. Marguerita Cheng of Blue Ocean Global Wealth explains how to transfer funds from one 529 plan to another without incurring tax consequences.

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New research shows why families who aren't saving for college will have to borrow

New research has revealed just how much of an effect saving for college has on reducing the likelihood that a student will incur student debt. So why are Americans continuing to rely so heavily on student loans? Here are three factors that may be to blame.

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[Video] What is a 529 plan?

Whether you're a new parent, grandparent or a prospective student, a 529 plan can help you build a college savings fund. Here's a quick video that introduces the 529 plan and highlights why we feel 529 plans are the best way for families to save for college.

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How to pass the college affordability test (CAT)

Many students and parents invest time and money preparing for the SAT and ACT but don’t give much forethought to passing their own college affordability test (CAT). Wendy David-Gaines discusses ways families can begin prepping for their own CAT.

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10 things you can learn about saving for college from Game of Thrones

What can Jon Snow, Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister teach you about planning for college? Find out in this fun Game of Thrones slideshow.

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Ask an expert: Can I claim any higher education tax benefits for a non-dependent child?

As the deadline to file your taxes draws near, Marguerita Cheng of Blue Ocean Global Wealth offers an answer to this frequently-asked question concerning higher education tax credits.

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Will a high school part-time job help with college admissions?

A part-time job can have a big impact on a student’s college application and could even influence their career path for years to come. Ryan Hickey, Managing Editor of Peterson's, shares four key questions that students should consider when looking for a part-time job.

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Ask an expert: How do grandparent-owned 529 plans affect financial aid eligibility?

Matthew Toner of Savingforcollege.com responds to the frequently asked-about topic of grandparent-owned 529 accounts and their effect on financial aid eligibility.

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What is your state doing to promote saving for college?

As tuition prices continue to skyrocket, many states are actively trying to raise awareness about the importance of saving for college. At this year's College Savings Foundation Conference, representatives from several states shared their thoughts with us on the best ways to promote saving for college.

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[PODCAST] Melinda Lewis on the relationship between college savings and student debt

Just how much of an effect does a college fund have on the likelihood that a student will have to borrow? In this podcast, Kathryn Flynn and Melinda Lewis discuss new research on the relationship between saving for college and student debt.

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College Savings April Foolery

Don't be tricked this April Fools Day! Make sure you do your research so that you know exactly what the best strategy is to help you meet your college savings goals.

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How to prepare now for that first tuition bill

Save for college with confidence: Your uuide to education funding, a resource published by Northwestern Mutual.

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How to save for college in the Sweet Sixteen states

It’s March Madness time! In honors of tonight’s first round of games between the Sweet 16 bracket, we’ve put together a slideshow highlighting the teams by state, and the 529 college savings plans offered by each state.

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Does your employer help you save for college?

Many workers feel that help with saving for college is a key piece missing from their benefits package. Kathryn Flynn and Christian Duffus of LEAF College Savings discuss why we rarely see college savings plans offered as employee benefits.

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Little Einsteins flock to the White House Science Fair

This year's annual White House Science Fair highlighted the President's 'Educate to Innovate' Campaign, part of the larger initiative to make college a reality for more students.

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Will the Student Aid Bill of Rights help your family?

Last week President Obama signed a presidential memorandum outlining a plan intended to help dissolve the student debt crisis. The Student Aid Bill of Rights focuses on four key issues related to helping students pay for college and helping graduates manage and repay their student loans.

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You do not have to trade retirement for tuition

Parents will do almost anything to keep their children from having to borrow to pay for college, even if it means sacrificing their own retirement savings.

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5 secrets to winning a college scholarship

The assumption that one has to be a perfect 4.0 student to win college scholarships has stopped a lot of talented students from even applying. Here are five secrets to winning a college scholarship that award recipients swear by.

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5 ways to grow your 529 pot o' gold

Even if you can't depend on the luck of the Irish to help you afford college tuition, here are five simple ways you can use a 529 plan to grow your own pot of gold for college!

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529 plans and your tax return

There are times when 529 account activity will need to be reported to the IRS. Here are five things to consider this tax season if you’re saving for college.

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15 facts about financial aid eligibility

Feeling overwhelmed by the process of applying for financial aid? Fear not! These fifteen facts can help you determine how much financial aid you may be eligible for.

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Why can't you donate your 529 plan to charity?

Donating a 529 account to charity might seem like the perfect solution for some who have leftover money in their account. Unfortunately, the tax law as it is currently written prevents this.

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Nine reasons why every 'Modern Family' needs a 529 plan

The following slideshow looks at one of America’s favorite unconventional families and how each member can enjoy the benefits of a 529 plan.

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Understanding your student loans and how to repay them

With so many loan repayment options out there it’s important for borrowers to explore all of their repayment options and make sure they find the plan that best fits their needs and their budget. NerdScholar's Alexandra Rice shares some tips.

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Savingforcollege.com's March Photo Madness

To get in the spirit of the upcoming March Madness basketball tournament, we're giving you the opportunity to win some great prizes. Enter our Facebook photo contest for a chance to win a $250 cash scholarship and two fitbits!

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The Penny Hoarder talks about saving and paying for college

Kyle Taylor, founder of The Penny Hoarder blog, shares some tips for parents, college students, and recent grads on ways to earn, save, and grow money.

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Making the most of the college visit

When considering a college to attend, one factor that students cannot get from the facts, pictures or stories is how they will feel once they are on campus. Here are some tips on how to make the most of a college visit.

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2014 ten-year top performing direct plans Q4

Savingforcollege.com ranks the ten-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of December 31, 2014.

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2014 five-year top performing direct plans Q4

Savingforcollege.com ranks the five-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of December 31, 2014.

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2014 one-year top performing direct plans Q4

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of December 31, 2014.

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2014 plan performance rankings Q4

Savingforcollege.com's Q4 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of December 31, 2014 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

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It's that time of year again - the 40-Day College Savings Challenge

Join us again this year and challenge yourself to find room in your family budget for college savings. Keep track of what you're able to save for the next 40 days, and keep us posted on how it's going!

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Financial Aid - Five crucial tips

There are many sources of financial aid available, learn more about them.

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[PODCAST] Selecting your 529 plan investment options

In this podcast episode, Joe Hurley and Kathryn Flynn discuss the investment options typically offered in a 529 plan and how to choose the best investment portfolio to achieve your savings target.

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10 things we love most about 529 plans

Getting to college without going into excessive debt isn’t easy, but it’s also not impossible. Here are 10 reasons why we think 529 plans are the most effective way for families to save for college.

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7 ways the 2016 fiscal year budget could affect higher education

This week, the Obama administration released a 2016 fiscal year budget request, which details the President's plan to make education and job training top priorities. This slideshow lists the impact the proposed budget could have on certain areas of higher education.

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5 reasons we were outraged by the President's 529 proposal

In the week following the President's surprising proposal to tax 529 plan withdrawals and subsequent dropping of the proposal, we began to wonder why it was ever brought up in the first place. After taking a closer look, here are five reasons we feel the president's proposal was based on some pretty misleading data.

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Automatic scholarships: New way to impact college planning

Looking for scholarships to help pay for college? Learn how the Raise.me platform helps students earn automatic "micro-scholarships" towards participating colleges for every milestone they achieve throughout high school.

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Proposed legislation H.R. 529 - Withdrawals, Reporting and Redepositing

A bipartisan legislation intended to modernize and expand 529 plans.

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529 plans and their tax benefits are here to stay

College savers can now breathe a sigh of relief as the President plans to drop his proposal to eliminate tax-free withdrawals of 529 college savings plans.

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What you need to know about President Obama's 529 tax proposal

In light of President Obama's recent proposal to eliminate the federal tax benefits of 529 plans, here are the facts on the proposal as it currently stands, as well as some ideas on how you can take action against it.

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10 reasons why president obama's proposal to reduce 529 benefits will NOT be enacted

President Obama's proposal to streamline education tax incentives calls for a rollback of the tax-free qualified withdrawals from 529 education savings plans that were enacted in 2001. Here are ten reasons why it's most likely that this proposal will not be enacted into law.

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The President's backdoor plan to increase 529 savings

Reaction to President Obama's proposal to impose tax on qualified distributions from 529 savings accounts.

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5 ways to avoid student loans

If you want your teenager to go to college without taking student loans, it’s important that you make a plan right now to prepare for that. Rachel Cruze explains a few ideas for how to get started.

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What would you do with free community college?

In case you haven't heard, President Obama recently announced a plan that would allow some students to attend two years of community college for free. Here are five ways families could take advantage of the potential savings of this plan, should it come to fruition.

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Which is best: 529 college savings plan or Roth IRA?

When it comes to choosing the best way to save for college, many people turn to tax-advantaged investment vehicles like Roth IRAs and 529 college savings plans. If you're on the fence about which savings vehicle to use, take a look at this breakdown of how each one works.

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529 plans and the FAFSA

Before you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it's a good idea to understand how your current savings, including those in 529 plans, are analyzed in calculating your financial aid eligibility.

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The 25 best 529 plan questions of 2014

Is opening a 529 plan one of your New Year's resolutions? Here's a list of some of the most commonly-asked 529 questions (and their answers!) to help you stick to your goal.

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The ABLE Act and what it means for your 529 plan

The long-awaited Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act has been signed into law by President Obama. Learn about how the 529A accounts created by this Act will help Americans with disabilities better save for the future.

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[PODCAST] How to give a gift of college savings

Happy holidays! In this new podcast, Joe Hurley and Kathryn Flynn discuss why a contribution to a 529 plan can be a more meaningful gift for a child than a toy or cash.

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5 ways to get money for college this holiday season

Instead of receiving more trucks or dolls to add to your already overflowing toy chest, why not consider asking your loved ones to contribute to your child's college fund this year? View this slideshow to learn more about some of the creative 529 gifting programs available to help you do just that.

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529 plans: Underappreciated Benefits Part I

When Congress in 2001 transformed 529 plans from being tax-deferred vehicles into being tax-free vehicles, I'm not sure they contemplated an environment in which investment returns might regularly outpace increases in college costs.

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College: The Ultimate Gift Idea This Holiday Season

Grandparents Can Help Fill the College Savings Void

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Making the right year-end moves

December 31 is fast approaching. If you haven't yet completed your year-end 529 housekeeping, now is the time to do it. This checklist should help:

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5 ways to judge your 529 plan's performance

You expect excellent investment results from your 529 plan, but how do you really know? Here are five approaches to help you judge your 529 plan's investment performance.

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Despite rising tuition prices, more students are just saying "No" to loans

Last week, the College Board released its annual "Trends in College Pricing" report, which revealed some much needed positive news regarding student borrowing.

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2014 ten-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the ten-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2014.

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2014 five-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the five-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2014.

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2014 three-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the three-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2014.

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2014 one-year top performing direct plans Q3

Savingforcollege.com ranks the one-year investment performance of direct-sold 529 plans as of September 30, 2014.

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2014 plan performance rankings Q3

Savingforcollege.com's Q3 529 performance rankings analyze one, three, five, and ten year investment performance as of September 30, 2014 and rank 529 savings plans from best to worst.

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Avoiding the financial-aid trap with grandparent 529s

Here are several strategies grandparents with 529 plans can utilize in order to contribute to their grandchildren's college fund without negatively impacting their financial aid eligibility.

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5 reasons to keep your 529 plan open during college

Even if there's only a small balance left in your 529 plan after paying your tuition bills, it's usually a smart idea to keep the plan up and running. Learn why.

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Be the Quarterback of Your College Savings Team

Steps to help accelerate college savings plan.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] College Savings Month Survey results

This year's College Savings Month survey revealed what factors families feel are most important when choosing a 529 plan. View our new infographic to see a summary of the findings.

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[PODCAST] Getting started with a 529 plan - Step 3: Maximizing your savings

In the third and final episode of the "Getting Started with a 529 Plan" series, Kathryn Flynn and Joseph Hurley discuss ways you can maximize the savings in your 529 plan in order to meet your college savings goals.

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Does this 529 plan rule leave you scratching your head?

Investing in your home state's 529 plan can have some great benefits, but you should still explore the 529 options in other states as well.

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The 529 plan F-Word

Almost all college savers will agree that the most hated four-letter word associated with 529 plans is F-E-E-S. It's important to compare fees when deciding on a 529 plan. But where do you start?Here’s a quick slideshow to help you understand the different charges:

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Going "all-in" on 529 plans

The IRS permits 529 plans to establish very high contribution limits--currently the highest is $452,210 in Pennsylvania. The reason for such generosity is because Congress in developing Section 529 did not want to prevent families with sufficient financial resources from saving for the FULL cost of postsecondary education, including both undergraduate and graduate school expenses.

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College Savings Month Survey (September 2014)

This year’s College Savings Month survey focused on the factors involved in deciding which 529 college savings plan to enroll in. With so many college savings plans available, choosing a plan can often be a daunting process for families.

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8 tips for preparing your child for the financial realities of college

This guest post offers the following strategies to help you ensure your kids are ready to face the expenses of higher education.

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Savingforcollege.com's College Savings Month festivities

To celebrate College Savings Month, we’re featuring exciting new content dedicated to sharing our knowledge and answering your questions regarding 529 college savings plans and other planning tools. Here’s a quick list of what we’re currently offering.

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Before you open a grandparent 529 account...

A 529 college savings plan can be a very effective way for grandparents to build a college fund for their grandchildren. However, there are a few questions grandparents must ask themselves before opening a 529 account.

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Consider this 529 college-savings niche

Did you know that 501(c)(3) charitable organizations can open accounts in a 529 plan? Not many people do. Yet this possibility presents an intriguing opportunity for both charities and forward-thinking financial advisors.

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