Alabama 529 Plan And College Savings Options
Alabama has a 529 plan called CollegeCounts that can help you save for college. Alabama also has a 529 Able Plan as well.
If you live in Alabama, these might be good options for you to save for college.
These programs are designed to help make college more affordable - so that you can get the education you need. By saving for college early on, you can make paying for college easier down the road.
If you're not quite sure how 529 plans work, check out this starter guide to What Is a 529 Plan?
There is also a specific order of operations to save for college that we recommend families follow. These programs are specific to the State of Alabama. Each state has different rules when it comes to 529 plan savings.
Average Cost Of College In Alabama
When saving for college in Alabama, it's important to take into consideration the cost of attendance in the state. If you choose to go to an out-of-state school, you need to look at the average cost of attendance in that state.
There are 97 colleges and universities in the State of Alabama.
The total average cost of college (Cost of Attendance) in Alabama for in-state residents is $20,328 for 2020. This includes tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses.
For just tuition alone, the average undergraduate tuition for in-state residents is $6,770 for 2020. The cost of tuition in Alabama has been rising at about 6% per year.
See how this compares to the average cost of college here. Keep in mind the average student loan debt by graduating class here.
Explore the data here.
Alabama 529 Plan Tax Information
Tax savings is one of the big benefits of using a 529 plan to save for college. On a federal-level, there is no tax savings for contributions, but qualified distributions are tax-free.
Here are the special tax benefits and considerations for using a 529 plan in Alabama.
Alabama offers a state tax deduction for contributions to a 529 plan of up to $5,000 for single filers and $10,000 for married filing jointly tax filers.
Minimum: There is no minimum contribution.
Maximum: Accepts contributions until all account balances for the same beneficiary reach $475,000.
Rollovers into the state plan are considered for the tax deduction up to the limits specified above.
Outbound rollovers are treated as non-qualified withdrawals.
Qualified distributions from an Alabama 529 plan are tax-free.
However, qualified distributions from a non-Alabama 529 plan are subject to Alabama state income tax.
Alabama does conform with Federal law in regards to using a 529 plan for K-12 tuition. See this guide: Using a 529 Plan For Elementary and High School Private Education.
Alabama does not conform with Federal law for using a 529 plan for student loans, yet. This may change before tax filing.
Non-Qualified Distributions Taxes, Penalties, Recapture
A non-qualified withdrawal from an Alabama 529 is subject to Alabama income tax plus 10 percent of the amount of the withdrawal (subject to the extent of prior Alabama tax deductions).
Alabama 529 College Savings Plan Options
Alabama has several 529 plan options - one consumer plan and one plan that is sold by financial advisors (we're big advocates of doing-it-yourself, you don't need to pay a financial advisor for this). They also have an old pre-paid tuition program that is no longer taking new enrollment.
Alabama CollegeCounts 529 Plan
The Alabama College Counts Plan is the name of Alabama's 529 Plan. This plan offers a variety of investment options, including age-based portfolios that become more conservative as the child approaches college, and static investment fund options.
The funds offered include Vanguard,T. Rowe Price, DFA, MainStay, PIMCO, Fidelity and Dodge & Cox.
There is a program management fee of 0.25%.
The underlying funds all charge expense ratios from 0.02% to 0.63% depending on the investment option.
Who Should Use It:
We recommend that Alabama residents use the Alabama CollegeCounts 529 plan due to the tax benefits, low fees, and plan investment options.
We recommend that out-of-state residents utilize other plans.
Alabama Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Program (PACT)
Alabama's Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (PACT) Program closed to new enrollment in 2008. However, existing contracts will still be honored.
The program has offered a four-year package and one-year package covering tuition and fees at any Alabama public college or university.
It was also convertible to private and non-Alabama institutions based on a formula.
Alabama 529 Able Plan Options
529A Able accounts are accounts designed to help those with disabilities escape poverty and save for themselves. Learn more about 529A Able Plans here.
Enable Savings Plan Alabama
The Enable Savings Plan is a 529A plan open to all residents in Alabama (the plan is actually administered by the Nebraska Able Plan).
This plan allows contributions of up to $15,000 per year from all sources.
It does have a minimum initial contribution amount of $50 per account, which can be waived with automatic deposits. The minimum subsequent contribution amount is $25 (which can also be waived with automatic deposits).
The plan does have an account maintenance fee of $45 annually, assessed at $11.25 per quarter. It also has a program management fee of 0.50%.
You can open an Enable Savings Plan here.
Other Programs To Save For College
A 529 plan is one way to save for college. Remember, we have a full guide on our approach to college savings here - and it helps you find other options.
If you're looking for ways to boost your college savings, check this out:
CollegeBacker is one of our favorite ways to save for college because they make gifting for college so easy. You can setup an account, link your 529 plan (in most states), and get a unique URL that you can share with friends and family to save for your children's college.
Plus, they have Backer Bucks, which allow you to earn rewards and rebates for the shopping you already do - directly deposited into your children's 529 plan.
Upromise is another awesome tool to help you save for college because they have a lot of ways that you can earn money for your 529 plan. You can get rebates and rewards, and you can get cash back into your child's 529 plan by using the Upromise credit card.
Alabama Financial Aid
Using a 529 plan isn't the only way to save money for college. Each state typically offers a variety of financial aid programs for their residents. These include scholarships and grants, and sometimes unique forgivable student loan opportunities.
Check out the list of Alabama Student Loan and Financial Aid Programs.
Return to the full list of 529 Plans By State.