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College Funding

There are a number of different resources and investment tools available to help plan for the growing costs associated with a college education. 
529 Plans*

Section 529 College Savings Plans are higher education savings plan trusts established under Section 529(b) of the Internal Revenue Code as "qualified tuition programs." Through these plans, individuals may make investments for the purpose of accumulating savings for the education costs of beneficiaries. The plans include interests in pooled investment funds under trusts established by state or local government entities, as well as higher education savings plan trusts established by states.

529 plans are administered by individual states and most state 529 plans have open enrollment, allowing both residents and non-residents to participate. Plans differ from state to state and many states offer different contribution limits and investment strategies depending upon the account holder's investment goals. Qualified withdrawals are currently free from federal tax (through the year 2010) without any income limitations or age restrictions.

There are two types of 529 savings plans:

  • The Prepaid College Tuition Plan allows the investor to prepay college tuition at current rates. With this plan, one can lock in the current cost of attendance by prepaying college tuition at today's prices. Keep in mind that most plans only guarantee 100 percent coverage if the beneficiary goes to a public in-state college or university. An investor can transfer prepaid tuition contracts to a private or out-of-state school, but they may not receive the contract's full value.
  • The College Savings Plan operates like a 401(k) plan, except it is funded by after-tax contributions. The plan will invest contributions into mutual funds, stocks, bonds and CDs (may vary by state). Fund strategies differ from plan to plan, so adequate research is necessary prior to investing. Some funds may follow an aggressive growth strategy (stock funds) when the beneficiary is young and later convert to a conservative growth strategy (bond funds) when the beneficiary nears college age.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts

Formerly known as Education IRAs, ESAs are a tax-advantaged way to save for college. Other than life insurance accounts, the investment options for an ESA are virtually limitless. Like an IRA, however, there are limitations on how much an individual can invest each year, as well as income restrictions on receiving the tax-advantaged investment treatment.

Custodial Accounts

Custodial accounts - Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) accounts or Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts are another tax-advantaged tool by which to save for a college education. A parent, grandparent, or other adult generally serves as the custodian for the account and makes all the investment decisions until the child for whom the account was opened turns 18.

Savings Bonds

Backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government, the interest from these bonds is received tax free if they are used for qualified higher education expenses. Interest on Series EE and I savings bonds are also usually exempt from state and local taxes as well.

As you can see, there are a multitude of different choices available. If you would like to discuss your college planning options contact this WFG associate.

* This product (529 Plan) is offered through registered representatives. An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with municipal fund securities before investing. More information about municipal fund securities is available in the issuer’s official statement.

Contact your financial advisor for an official statement, which contains this and other important information. Read it carefully before investing. You should consider, before investing, whether the investor’s or designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified tuition program.

Investment Risk Disclaimer

There are risks, fees and charges, and limitation that one must consider when investing.

Securities products are sold by prospectus which contains more complete information about charges, risks, objectives and expenses. Copies of specific product prospectuses and statements of additional information may be obtained by contacting your registered representative. Prospectuses should be read carefully and the charges, risks, objectives and expenses should be carefully considered before investing or sending money.

Securities are offered through Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc. (TFA or Transamerica Financial Advisors), Member FINRA/SIPC (