When you think about college for your children, you might either hold out hope that they'll earn a full scholarship or consider opening a savings account on the chance that they could need some help. Unfortunately, neither of these options may be sufficient when it comes time to enroll in a university and pay that first tuition bill. According to the College Board, the average cost of a year of college in 2016 was $9,650 (tuition only). Here are five of the best options for smart college savings.
529 College Plans
A 529 plan is a state-sponsored investment account that is designated for college expenses. The advantage of these plans is that they allow parents to save tax-free dollars for a child's future education expenses. The funds in the plan are invested differently according to the plan and the child's age, so you should shop plans carefully. The annual fees also vary by program.
Prepaid Tuition Plans
A prepaid tuition plan is similar to a 529 plan but lacks the investment risk. The other difference is that you receive a guaranteed in-state tuition rate with these plans, based on the sponsoring state and the year that you subscribe. Many states administer these programs, and they aren't all the same. You should shop around for the best prepaid plan, as you don't need to live in a state to invest in its plan. If, however, the child decides to attend school in a different state, they won't receive the full value of the plan.
A Coverdell account is an education savings investment account that is available to couples that make under $220,000 per year or single parents that make less than $110,000 annually. The proceeds from this account can be used tax-free for any education expenses, not just college. The only limitation is that you are limited to a $2,000 contribution to the account per year, per student.
UGMA and UTMA
Financial gifts to a minor, which are held in a custodial account, are another way to set money aside for college. The Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) and the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) allows for $1,000 of untaxed contributions each year. The next $1,000 is taxed at the child's tax rate, which is usually low. Once your child reaches 18 or 21, they will own the account and can use it for education expenses or something else.
While probably not the most ideal solution to paying for college, you do have the option of raiding your Roth IRA to help foot education expenses. If you're age 59 1/2 or older, at least you won't be penalized for any early withdrawals to help with education bills. A better idea is to help your child open their own Roth IRA as soon as they begin earning any type of income.
These are the most common ways to save for college long-term. Obviously, the sooner you start, the better off your savings plan will be when enrollment time arrives. Another option is to use the cash value from a whole life insurance policy to help pay for college expenses. Over time, the investment component of this policy will accumulate value, and you can borrow against that value for such things as retirement or college expenses for children. Contact IntelliQuote to learn more about your life insurance options or request a quote now.
Knowledge is power. The more you know, the easier it is to make an intelligent choice. Everyday life, as well as certain events and circumstances, require you to make choices. And peace of mind is gained when you feel good about the decisions you make.
When it comes to life insurance, IntelliQuote is there for you to make the intelligent, well-informed choice. From term life insurance to universal life insurance and final expense insurance, we make it easy for you to compare, shop and save. Get multiple quotes now and make the intelligent decision for Life.