Before your baby comes into the world, you plan. From the crib to the clothes, to bottles and everything in between, you try your best to provide them with whatever they might need to get a good start in life. But did you know that you can also begin to plan ahead for their educational needs even before your baby is born? Setting up a 529 plan for college savings is another way you can help your baby get the head start he or she deserves in life.
What is a 529 Savings Plan?
The 529 plan is a savings plan that is specifically designed to help families set money aside for future education expenses. The 529 is a particular favorite with parents because it comes with tax breaks and benefits that you can read more about on IRS.gov. These plans are offered by almost every state and many educational institutions, and they can be used at any qualified college, university, vocational school, or postsecondary education institution in the nation. Talk to your local bank, credit union, or financial adviser about your options.
Getting started with a 529 plan early
Just because you can't set up a 529 college savings account before your baby has a Social Security number, doesn't mean you can't begin to set aside some money. For example, you could start a 529 for yourself, and then change the beneficiary at a later date. If you wait until after your baby is born to set up an account, you could be missing out on some tax benefits and growth.
Getting relatives to contribute to your baby's 529
If grandparents (or other relatives) are looking to contribute to your baby's education, let them know that you have a 529 set up. While savings bonds can be a good idea, politely encourage then to consider a contributing to your baby's 529 plan. You may be surprised by how many of your friends and family members will want to make a direct contribution to your baby's education.
NOTE: As of 2018, the IRS has amended the term “qualified higher education expense” to include a limited amount of annual expenses from a 529 Plan for tuition at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school. Source: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/529-plans-questions-and-answers