529 Plans: The Ultimate Guide To College Savings Plans
Nearly every state in the United States has some type of 529 plan to help families save for college. These plans are designed as tax-advantaged accounts - which give you tax benefits to save for college.
With that being said, some states offer better benefits than others, and for states that don't offer many benefits, there are apps and programs that can help you supercharge your college savings.
It's important to also understand the rules and restrictions of using a 529 plan to save for college, and how 529 plans fit into your overall plan of how to save for college.
If you're simply looking for help to pay for college very soon, look at our other ultimate guide of student loan and financial aid programs by state.
529 Plan Basics
529 plans are tax-advantaged savings and investment accounts designed to be a way to save for educational expenses (typically higher education, but that has been expanded over the years).
Money invested in the 529 plan can be withdrawn tax-free if used for qualifying expenses - which includes qualified higher education expenses (like tuition, room and board, and more), K-12 tuition, vocational school, and even student loan debt. See this full guide to qualified 529 plan expenses.
Some states (almost half) also provide tax benefits for contributions to 529 plans. While there are no official IRS rules around contributions, there are some 529 plan contribution limits you should be aware of.
Next, you need to make sure you understand how to take distributions from your 529 plan.
Finally, 529 plans also get beneficial treatment for financial aid eligibility on the FAFSA. Read all the details about how using a 529 Plan can impact your FAFSA and financial aid.
When you're ready to start saving, check out this guide of where to open a 529 plan, or click the map below and see the options available in your state (as well as what we recommend and what benefits you may receive in your state).
Finally, make sure you understand the potential for a 529 plan penalty if you don't use the money for qualifying expenses.
Find Your State
As we put this guide together, it was interesting to see the variation in plan offerings by state.
Here are some interesting statistics about 529 plans in the United States:
- Tax Credits: 5 states offer tax credits for their residents to make contributions to a 529 plan. These states include Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, and Vermont.
- Tax Deductions: 29 states offer tax deductions for their residents.
- Tax-Parity: Some states offer a tax deduction for contributions to ANY 529 plan nationwide. These states are Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota,Missouri, Montana, and Pennsylvania.
- Conforming With Federal Tax Law For K-12 Education: Most states follow the rules for K-12 education being allowed, with 39 states following Federal law.
- Conforming with Federal Tax Law For Student Loan Debt: Only 28 states have changed their plans to allow up to $10,000 to be used for student loan debt.
You might also enjoy understanding why each state has its own 529 plan rules.
The Top 529 Plan Tips And Tricks
List Of 529 Plans By State
Almost every state offers a 529 plan to help their residents save for college. Some states offer multiple programs, while others might just offer a basic plan.
Remember, each state has different rules for plans - so it could make sense to use your state's plan, or it could make sense to use any plan nationwide.
Alabama - Alabama offers the CollegeCounts 529 Plan.
Alaska - Alaska offers the Alaska 529 Plan for in-state residents and the T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan nationwide.
Arizona - Arizona offers the Fidelity Arizona College Savings Plan and the Arizona Family College Savings Plan.
Arkansas - Arkansas offers the GIFT College Investing Plan.
California - California offers the ScholarShare 529 Plan.
Colorado - Colorado offers the CollegeInvest 529 Plan.
Connecticut - Connecticut offers the Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET).
Delaware - Delaware offers the Delaware College Investment Plan.
Florida - Florida offers a prepaid tuition program and the Florida 529 Savings Plan.
Georgia - Georgia offers the Path2College 529 Plan.
Hawaii - Hawaii offers the HI529 Hawaii's College Saving Program.
Idaho - Idaho offers the IDeal College Savings Program.
Illinois - Illinois offers the Bright Start College Savings Program.
Indiana - Indiana offers the CollegeChoice 529 Plan.
Iowa - Iowa offers the College Savings Iowa 529 Plan.
Kansas - Kansas offers the Learning Quest and Schwab 529 Plans.
Kentucky - Kentucky offers the KY Saves 529 Plan.
Louisiana - Louisiana offered the START Saving 529 Plan.
Maine - Maine offers the NextGen 529 plan.
Maryland - Maryland offers the Maryland 529 Plan and a Prepaid Tuition Program.
Massachusetts - Massachusetts offers the UFund College Investing Plan and a Prepaid Tuition Program.
Michigan - Michigan offers the MESP 529 Plan and a Prepaid Tuition Program.
Minnesota - Minnesota offers the Minnesota College Savings Plan.
Mississippi - Mississippi offers the MACS 529 Plan and a Prepaid Tuition Program.
Missouri - Missouri offers the MOST 529 Plan.
Montana - Montana offers the Achieve Montana 529 Plan.
Nebraska - Nebraska offers the NEST 529 Plan and the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan.
Nevada - Nevada offers three 529 plans (including Vanguard) and a Prepaid Tuition Program.
New Hampshire - New Hampshire offers the UNIQUE College Investing Plan.
New Jersey - New Jersey offers the NJBEST 529 College Savings Plan.
New Mexico - New Mexico offers The Education Plan's College Savings Program.
New York - New York offers the NY529 Plan.
North Carolina - North Carolina offers the NC529 Plan.
North Dakota - North Dakota offers the College SAVE program.
Ohio - Ohio offers the CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan.
Oklahoma - Oklahoma offers the Oklahoma College Savings Plan.
Oregon - Oregon offers the Oregon College Savings Plan.
Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania offers the PA 529 Plan.
Rhode Island - Rhode Island offers the CollegeBound Saver 529 Plan.
South Carolina - South Carolina offers the Future Scholar 529 Plan.
South Dakota - South Dakota offers the CollegeAccess 529 plan.
Tennessee - Tennessee offers the TNStars 529 Program.
Texas - Texas offers the Texas College Savings Plan.
Utah - Utah offers the my529 Plan.
Vermont - Vermont offers the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan.
Virginia - Virginia offers the Invest529 Plan.
Washington - Washington offers the DreamAhead 529 Plan.
West Virginia - West Virginia offers the Smart529 Plan.
Wisconsin - Wisconsin offers the Edvest 529 Plan.
Wyoming - Wyoming is the only state that doesn't offer a 529 plan to save for college.
You might be looking for other resources to help save or pay for college.
Check these out:
Editor: Clint Proctor