Florida 529 Plan And College Savings Options
Florida has a 529 plan and a prepaid college plan (the largest in the nation) called the Florida Prepaid College Plan that can help you save for college. Florida also has a 529 Able Plan as well.
If you live in Florida, 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 Florida. Each state has different rules when it comes to 529 plan savings.
Average Cost Of College In Florida
When saving for college in Florida, 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 402 colleges and universities in the State of Florida.
The total average cost of college (Cost of Attendance) in Florida for in-state residents is $19,300 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 $3,865 for 2020. The cost of tuition in Florida has been relatively flat for the last five years.
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.
Florida 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 Florida.
Florida does not have a personal income tax - so there are no tax deductions for contributions.
Minimum: There is no minimum contribution.
Maximum: Accepts contributions until all account balances for the same beneficiary reach $418,000.
Rollovers are allowed into the 529 plan.
Florida has no state income tax - all distributions follow Federal guidelines.
Florida 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.
Florida does conform with Federal law for using a 529 plan for student loans.
Non-Qualified Distributions Taxes, Penalties, Recapture
Florida has no state personal income tax, so non-qualified distributions follow only Federal tax guidelines.
Florida 529 College Savings Plan Options
Florida has a prepaid college savings program and a traditional 529 plan. The Florida prepaid college savings plan is only available to Florida residents, and it is the largest prepaid plan in the United States.
Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Plan
The Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Plan is the name of Florida's Prepaid Tuition Plan. This plan allows residents to prepay for the cost of tuition and specified fees for the plan purchased. It also has an optional university dorm housing plan that may be purchased to pay for university housing.
The plan gets the most value by using it for in-Florida colleges. However, the plan may be applied toward the costs at any eligible education institution nationwide. Benefits are paid out at the current rates paid to public colleges or universities in Florida at time of usage, per actual plan purchased.
It's important to note that you must purchase a plan by the time the beneficiary is in the 11th grade. Also, the plan benefits must be used within 10 years after the expected date of college enrollment (not counting time in the military), unless an extension is requested.
Enrollment fee of $50.
Who Should Use It:
This is a solid plan for someone who is planning to attend college in Florida. However, given that Florida's tuition prices have been relatively flat, it could also be a wash versus simply saving in a 529 plan.
Florida 529 Savings Plan
The Florida 529 Savings Plan is the name of Florida'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, Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), more.
Beginning September 2019, the beneficiary must be a Florida resident at time of enrollment.
There are no program management fees.
The underlying funds all charge expense ratios from 0.02% to 0.61% depending on the investment option.
Who Should Use It:
This is a decent plan, but it's only available to Florida residents. It may be worthwhile to find an easy solution like CollegeBacker that offers more functionality for saving for college.
Florida 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.
The ABLE United is a 529A plan open to all residents in Florida.
This plan allows contributions of up to $15,000 per year from all sources.
It does have a minimum initial contribution amount of $25 per account.
The plan doesn't have any maintenance fees, but the underlying investments may charge anywhere from 0.02% to 0.29%.
You can open an ABLE United 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.
Florida 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 Florida Student Loan and Financial Aid Programs.
Return to the full list of 529 Plans By State.