Grandparents can use the 529 College Saver Plan to boost their grandchildren's education without compromising financial aid

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Earning a higher education degree can be highly rewarding for graduates, but it can also be increasingly expensive. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average college student pays $35,551 a year to school.

Grandparents can be an untapped source of college funding, but historically, the money grandparents put into 529 education savings plans has had a negative impact on other college funding sources. That will change in her 2024-2025 school year. Payments from a grandparent’s 529 plan will no longer affect a student’s ability to receive financial aid.

Learn how a 529 plan works and why you should start a 529 plan to help educate your grandchildren.Learn more about personal savings here best saving app When Top Automated Financial Advisor.

Note: We are discussing 529 education savings It is not a 529 prepaid tuition plan with its own benefits and risks.

What is a 529 education savings plan?

Named after a section of the Internal Revenue Code, the 529 Education Savings Plan is a tax-advantaged investment that works like a Roth IRA for education. Money put into a 529 plan goes to designated beneficiaries (yourselves, your children, grandchildren, etc.), and any investment income you make with your money is exempt from federal taxes and typically exempt from state taxes as well. will be

The money paid out of the 529 plan should be used primarily for college or private K-12 tuition, as well as educational expenses such as housing, food, books, or educational supplies. If you can’t pay for your education, you can withdraw, but the earnings will be taxed as capital gains with a 10% penalty.

About 30 states allow tax credits for contributions to 529 plans. Most 529 plans do not have an annual donation limit, but there is a total limit on how much you can contribute during the lifetime of your account.

Technically, you can donate up to $16,000 annually to beneficiaries without imposing federal gift tax, but any amount above that will be used only for lifetime bequests and gift tax exemptions (in 2022 a whopping $12.06 million).

Anyone can open 529 plans for others. Each 529 plan has only one beneficiary, but beneficiaries can change during the life of the plan.

What are the changes to the Grandparent 529 Plan?

Expenses from grandparents 529 expense plans were previously considered part of a student’s income. 50% of them were considered eligible for school fees in their financial aid applications. If a student receives money from a grandparent’s 529 plan one year, it increases their income and reduces financial aid the next year.

However, beginning the 2024-2025 school year, students will no longer be required to report cash assistance due to the streamlined FAFSA application. Any money you receive from your grandparents for education through the 529 Plan in one year will no longer affect the amount of financial assistance you receive the following year.

FAFSA instead uses tax return data to calculate student income. This means grandparents can distribute money through the 529 plan without having to help fund their grandchildren’s education.

How do I get started with the 529 plan?

You can open 529 accounts in any of the 50 states or Washington DC with major brokerage firms like Charles Schwab, Vanguard, Fidelity, or banks like Wells Fargo, USAA, Chase. Be sure to check the terms of each program for the fees and investment options available for each plan. Most plans trade in mutual funds and stocks, but many also offer low-risk, low-return investments.

You will need the recipient’s social security number and the account number and routing number of the bank account used to fund the 529 plan.

Money paid for education from a 529 plan also cannot be claimed as a tax credit for education. He cannot double the tax savings. The interest you earn should cover the loss of your education tax credit, so a 529 plan makes the most sense if you have time to accumulate the return on the principal invested. tax saving.

For additional reading, learn How to save for your child’s college savings account and all Best deals, discounts and freebies for students now.

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