What is a 529 College Savings Plan?

By Financial Advisor Katie Bensel | October 16, 2020

529 College Savings Plans are savings vehicles designed to allow individuals / families to save for qualified higher education expenses in a tax-advantaged manner. Contributions to 529 College Savings Plans are allowed to grow tax-deferred and may be distributed tax-free if the funds are utilized for qualified higher education expenses.

Qualified higher education expenses include:

  • Tuition and Fees
  • Room and Board
  • Books and Supplies

In recent years, additions have been made on a federal level to expand the definition of qualified education expenses for 529 College Savings Plans.

TCJA: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expanded the federal guidelines for 529 College Savings Plans to include up to $10,000 of K-12 tuition expenses per year, per beneficiary. These funds are considered a qualified expense if they are used to pay for public, private, or religious education for grades K-12.*

The SECURE Act: Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act:

The SECURE Act further expanded the federal guidelines for 529 College Savings Plan distributions. Distributions made after December 31, 2018 can be utilized to pay down federal or private student loans up to a lifetime maximum of $10,000. This is a lifetime maximum per beneficiary. *

*While these two expansions of qualified higher education expenses apply federally, state-level qualification decisions vary. State specific information should be obtained prior to making distributions. Non-qualified distributions are subject to income tax and a potential 10% penalty.

What's Next?

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