Are 529 plans only for my state’s public colleges?

Facebook icon Twitter icon Print icon Email icon

July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

There’s a misconception that state-sponsored 529 plans are only geared to families that send their children to a state college. That’s just not true!

There are two general types of 529 plans:

  1. Savings programs
  2. Prepaid programs


If you decide to use a 529 savings program, the full value of your account can be used at any eligible college or university including some international institutions. Since January 1, 2018, you can also use your 529 plan savings to pay for tuition expenses at private, public or religious elementary or secondary schools, up to $10,000 per year per beneficiary.


The states offering prepaid tuition contracts covering in-state tuition will allow you to transfer the value of your contract to private and out-of-state colleges (although you may not get full value depending on the particular state).

The tax law now permits higher education institutions to offer their own 529 prepaid programs. These will allow you to target your tuition prepayment to the sponsoring institution (or group of institutions). The Private College 529 Plan is the only such program currently in operation and you must check to see what restrictions they may place on the colleges covered by the plan.

A good place to start:

See the best 529 plans, personalized for you