What Is A 529 Plan? How Does It Work?

A 529 college savings plan is a specialized savings account that is used to save money for college. Each 529 plan account has an account owner, who controls the investments and selects the beneficiary and one beneficiary. The account owner and beneficiary may be the same person. 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. 529 plans make it easier to save, with the option to schedule automatic investments as low as $15 or $25 25 a month transferred from a bank account or payroll check.

What is a 529 plan?

A 529 plan is the term used for a savings vehicle that allows families to save money for college. When you use a 529 plan, you are contributing and having your money invested for college. Contributions to a 529 plan are tax-free if used for qualified expenses. You can use a 529 plan to pay for qualified expenses only. A 529 plan is meant to help families save for their children’s education expenses. But even if you don’t use a 529 plan, contributing money can still help you achieve your college savings goals. A 529 plan may be used to save money for college. Contributing money to a 529 plan is the same as saving for a 529 plan. But in many cases, a 529 plan is used to save money for higher education expenses.

How does the 529 plan work?

There are multiple options for how to set up a 529 plan, but each offers a level of security and growth potential. The best choices depend on your financial situation and your family’s circumstances. To choose the best option for you, talk to an accountant or certified financial planner. A financial planner can discuss your unique situation, give you a hands-on, personalized assessment, and offer other considerations to consider.

Benefits of 529 work

Choosing a 529 plan that is good for your family is easier than you might think. The best choice depends on several factors. You’re looking for a plan that helps you put away money while your children are growing up. You want to know that your plan will provide as much interest as possible, and won’t run out of money. You’re looking for a plan that doesn’t require you to pay state and federal income taxes on any contributions or on earnings from the plan, or fees. Most 529 plans have low minimum contribution requirements, usually a few hundred dollars. For many families, this is more than they have to save. A 529 plan can help you and your family avoid getting hit with high state income taxes, which are often higher than the income taxes on their investments.

How to choose a 529 plan?

A 529 plan offers great flexibility and low transaction fees, so it makes sense to use a plan that is right for you. Learn about the different types of 529 plans and compare the fees associated with each one. Decide which kind of beneficiary you want – immediate or graduated – as well as the investment options you want for your beneficiary. Under the current tax laws, there are many different types of qualified savings vehicles, such as a Roth IRA, Roth 401k, Roth 403b, a traditional IRA, etc. The best way to choose a 529 plan is by figuring out what your assets are worth, and the degree to which you need the money in the future. If your assets are greater than $500,000 and you can devote at least 10% of your income to college expenses, such as tuition, fees, room and board, and transportation, then you may consider the cost to be more than a 529 plan could ever afford. This is because all 529 plans must invest at least 7.65% in stocks. For families who will need the money for many years, this would never be sufficient.

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How to select a 529 plan investment option

It is important that any 529 account investment is simple and accessible. Families who are considering using an investment option in a 529 plan should consider the investment options offered, the fees and costs associated with them, and consider the particular needs of their beneficiary. With some programs, investors are not the owners of their investments. The investment options in a 529 plan may be created, owned, or managed by the plan sponsor, state tax office, federal tax office, or charitable organization (local community college might offer their investment options in a 529). For example, state governments typically manage a 529, investing the money in a group of U.S. stock, U.S. bond, or money market mutual fund.

How to make contributions to a 529 plan

Individuals, families, or small businesses may contribute to a 529 plan in various ways. Some states have other, more complicated, methods of making contributions, including payroll contributions to specific bank accounts, but most employers already make contributions into a 401(k) plan for their employees, and most states make similar arrangements for K-12 tuition. Under some circumstances, individuals may also make contributions directly into a 529 plan. The person making the contributions must meet certain requirements, including that the contribution is in their own name, and that the contributions are invested in a state-sponsored 529 plan.

How Much Can I Contribute?

There are a lot of options for 529 plan contribution amounts. The savings limits are dependent upon the state and dependent on the number of years until college. For example, the New Jersey Tax-Free Savings Accounts annual contribution limit is $60,000 per beneficiary and the federal limit is $200,000. There are also a lot of calculators available online, that will help you decide how much you are able to save for college. Some of the online calculators may require a state or school login.

Will Having a 529 Plan Affect Financial Aid?

A 529 plan may affect financial aid in some cases. For instance, 529 plan deposits count toward certain financial aid formulas, such as need-based financial aid formulas for undergraduate students and merit-based aid formulas for graduate students. There are many options for financial aid, including FAFSA, work-study, grants, and loans. Your 529 plan may reduce the amount of financial aid you can receive. If you choose to use your 529 plan to pay for your children’s college, you may not be eligible for state-sponsored financial aid. The state could deny you financial aid. Other financial aid options may be available if you have the financial resources to pay for college. If you do not have access to financial aid, or you may not meet the financial aid eligibility requirements, it may be difficult to send your children to college. But you can still help your children get a college education, even if you do not have the financial resources to do it yourself.

How to Withdraw from a 529 Plan

You will usually be able to withdraw from your account and pay for your college expenses. The best way to manage this withdrawal is to start with a withdrawal that is large enough to cover the cost of your current college expenses and get used to making withdrawals in order to build up an emergency fund. This withdrawal will likely be about half the annual average cost of your college expenses. You can then apply the remaining funds to your emergency fund or to your 529 college savings plan. If you are not quite ready to make a withdrawal yet, consider borrowing from your 529 college savings plan. You can borrow $10,000 per year ($1,000 a month for 12 months) without paying any interest on the money.


Families should do all they can to make sure they are on track for college. If you are a couple and plan to save the maximum you can each year in a retirement account, consider making that college savings account as well. Or if your child is to be the beneficiary of a 529 account, contribute as much as you can. Savings in tax-free accounts like a 529 plan offer family members the option to save for college now, while tax-advantaged, and invest for growth and income in retirement. The best part about 529 plans is that the money can be used for any type of higher education.

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NB: The purpose of this website is to provide a general understanding of personal finance, basic financial concepts, and information. It’s not intended to advise on tax, insurance, investment, or any product and service. Since each of us has our own unique situation, you should have all the appropriate information to understand and make the right decision to fit with your needs and your financial goals. I hope that you will succeed in building your financial future.