We had a baby in January and I’ve been procrastinating setting up her 529 plan.
“A 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. It is named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code which created these types of savings plans in 1996.”
I’ve skimmed articles and listened to podcasts about the subject, here are some highlights:
1. You have to research and choose a State offered 529 Plan
I chose Colorado’s 529 Plan, my home state, mainly because I just love Colorado..and I wanted the tax benefits their 529 Plan gave me for being a resident. I then choose the Direct Portfolio Savings Plan because it was managed by Vanguard and I have an IRA with them.
2. Once you’ve decided on a 529 Plan, you have to signup and choose options
The Direct Portfolio Savings Plan 529 Plan that I chose offered 4 options, each based on level of risk. Of course, I have no idea what I’m doing so I just choose the first option, “Age-based”, it adjusts your level of risk over time beginning at high risk and moving to low risk as it gets closer to the beginning of college. This is the option the Obama’s chose for their kids.
3. Now you can start contributing
The maximum the 529 Plan can have in it is $280,000. You can contribute whatever you want each year until you reach that maximum.
4. When you are ready to pull money out:
Distributions from the Plan that go towards tuition costs come out tax-free. This makes sense because the money has already been taxed when it goes in but then comes out without being taxed. So, you are not double taxed on this money or it’s gains by the IRS. Read this FAQ page for more info
I also enjoyed listening to Marketplace’s Story on choosing 529 Plans.