How to pick 529 plan if future college is unknown
In the vast majority of 529 "savings" programs, that won't matter. Withdrawals from the account can be used at any educational institution where federal student aid is available, whether or not the school is located in the state sponsoring the 529 plan. Eligible institutions include private colleges, public universities, community colleges, graduate schools, and trade schools around the country. Foreign schools may also be eligible. To check the eligibility of any particular institution, use our school code search tool.
The situation is different with many of the 529 "prepaid" programs. These 529 plans often reserve their best benefits for students attending particular institutions. For example, the College Illinois! prepaid tuition program is targeted to Illinois families who plan on sending their children to Illinois public institutions. Another example is Independent 529 Plan, a program that permits you to lock in tuition at participating private colleges around the country. In any 529 prepaid program, the benefits can be converted for use at non-targeted institutions, but you'll want to understand the conversion formula before making the decision to join the plan.
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