Whether you begin setting money aside the day your child is born, when you get your first job, or simply when you realize college is only a year away, the key is getting started. INvestEd understands that saving for college isn’t easy, but it is very beneficial.
Saving comes in many forms. Maybe it’s a 529 College Savings account or other investment. Perhaps saving is simply finding ways to reduce costs like taking dual credit courses, commuting from home, or even online versus classroom courses. Any step you can take to reduce costs and plan for the future is saving for college.
529 Direct Savings Plan
One of the most common options for families looking to save for college is the 529 Direct Savings Plan. It is an investment where earnings grow tax free when used to pay qualified educational expenses, like tuition, fees, housing, food, or even books and supplies. Most states have a 529 plan and Indiana’s has a great benefit. Contributions are eligible for a 20% income tax credit up to $1,000! While there is always risk involved with any investment, the flexibility and benefits of a 529 plan are worth considering. Below are some key elements of these plans.
- Anyone can be an account owner. Mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, friend or even the student themselves.
- Account owner retains control of the money and names the beneficiary. The beneficiary can change to a qualified family member without any taxes or penalties.
- Plan has low fees and low contribution requirements and various investment options.
- Indiana’s College Choice 529 Direct Savings Plan also has Ugift®, which is an online program where family and friends can celebrate special occasions by contributing to the student’s plan.
529 Direct Savings Plans are not the only investment vehicle available to families, so INvestEd encourages you to talk with a trusted financial advisor to discuss what options may be available. Find out more about Indiana’s CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Plan by clicking here.
Other Ways to Save
INvestEd knows that saving for college may mean more than setting aside money. Saving could be finding ways to earn credit toward a degree at a lower cost. It can also mean planning ahead for college and the many steps in that process from choosing the right career and major, choosing the right school, finding scholarships, finding grants, completing the FAFSA, comparing college costs, exploring student employment, understanding loan options, and finalizing financial aid!
Here are some ways to save and fund your education wisely:
- Take advantage of dual credit and Advanced Placement course options while in high school. Earning college credit through these avenues is typically lower cost and can help you complete college earlier.
- When comparing colleges, look at the difference in cost between being a residential student and a commuter. INvestEd believes in the value of being involved in campus life; we simply encourage every student to understand his or her options and associated costs.
- Consider online courses as a way to supplement your classroom work and create flexibility. Online courses allow for more time to work and earn money to help cover your costs. Taking classes during the summer can help you earn credit and complete your degree faster.
Saving money for college doesn’t happen overnight and INvestEd knows the hardest part is just getting started. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone and we are here to help! If you have questions or simply want to discuss how to get started, contact us.