Kathryn is Content Director at Savingforcollege.com. She has been quoted in financial publications including the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, Fortune, Money and GOBankingRates, and has been an expert guest on personal finance podcasts. Prior to Savingforcollege.com, Kathryn worked in product marketing at Henderson Global Investors (now Janus Henderson Investors), a global asset manager. She earned her MBA with Finance Concentration from DePaul University's Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, and has prior FINRA Series 7 and 63 licenses. Kathryn has 529 college savings plans for each of her three children, and enjoys creating content to help other families prepare for future higher education costs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
529 accounts are relatively simple to set up, but with over 100+ different options available, even the most savvy investors are sometimes left wondering where to begin. In this new podcast series, we discuss the steps to take when setting up a new 529 college savings account.
Competency-based education is a new trend in online higher education that caters to those who may have financial or time restraints that prevent a traditional college experience. Here are five reasons why this non-traditional type of college program might be for you.
There are a number of different ways for grandparents to help save for college, yet for many the process can seem overwhelming. Here's an overview of the college savings resources we have available to help grandparents ensure their grandchildren have the best chance for success.
Having kids and the expenses to go with them can sometimes put savings goals on hold. Whether your first baby just arrived or your oldest is headed to middle school, it’s never too late to get your family’s savings plan back on track. Here are four tips on how to get started.
Mark your calendars! In honor of 529 Day, Thursday, May 29th at 1:00pm ET Savingforcollege.com is hosting a live webcast featuring the industry’s top experts. This is your chance to ask questions regarding 529 plans, financial aid and where college savings fits into your family’s financial plan.
In addition to allowing you to track funds in a bank or investment account, there are also mobile apps available that offer some fantastic planning tools. This slide show highlights five apps that help parents, students and grandparents plan for the future costs of college.
The results of our Annual College Savings Survey show that there are still many people who are unclear about the functionality of 529 plans. In this post, we discuss six common misconceptions and reveal the correct answers to help clear up some of the confusion.
Our survey results indicate many of our readers feel comfortable selecting their own investments, but there may be situations in which an advisor-sold 529 plan could be a better fit. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself:
Many future college students should be feeling lucky this St. Patrick’s Day. A recent report announced that total investments in 529 college savings plans hit a record level of $227 billion. However, families still have a long way to get to the end of the rainbow.