Should You Use a 529 Plan to Pay for College?

Money Girl interviews a 529 college savings plan expert for tips on how to fund higher education for yourself, a child, or grandchild without going broke. Learn how to choose the right 529 plan, how much to save, what the funds can be used for, and the tax benefits that make these special accounts the perfect way to save for college.

Laura Adams, MBA
3-minute read
Episode #504

Should You Use a 529 Plan to Pay for College?As the cost of higher education continues to rise, you may be wondering how to save enough to send yourself or a child to college. While it’s possible to get scholarships for a free ride, it’s wise to start planning as early as possible.

One of the best ways to pay for college is a 529 savings plan, also known as a qualified tuition program. It comes with great tax advantages designed to help you save as much as possible.

The 529 plan was created in 1996, and named after it’s section of Internal Revenue Code. To date, more than 12 million families have used it to save more than $258 billion for higher education expenses.

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In my interview with Christopher Krell, CFP, CFS, we discuss how to choose the right 529 plan, and reveal tips for using them in the best ways possible. Christopher is a 529 plan expert and a nationally recognized financial advisor with Cassaday & Company, Inc.

The Overview

If you’re going to college or graduate school anytime in the future, or want to pay education expenses for a child or grandchild, don’t miss this conversation. Here are some of the important topics we cover:

  • Major pros and cons of using a 529 plan to save for college, and the different types of 529 options
  • Who can use a 529 to save for higher education expenses and what the money can be used for
  • What happens to 529 savings if your child can’t or doesn’t want to go to college, or prefers a different school than you hoped
  • How to know which state’s plan is best for you
  • How to estimate the right amount to save, and how a 529 affects eligibility for federal financial aid

529 plans remain a great way to save for college and offer a unique combination of features that no other college savings vehicles can match. -- Christopher Krell

Listen to the interview using the audio player in the upper right sidebar of this page or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify]

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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.