Tax-Advantaged Ways to Save for College

In the college savings game, all strategies aren't created equal. The best savings vehicles offer special tax advantages if the funds are used to pay for college. Tax-advantaged strategies are important because over time, you can potentially accumulate more money with a tax-advantaged investment compared to a taxable investment. Ideally, though, you'll want to choose a savings vehicle that offers you the best combination of tax advantages, financial aid benefits, and flexibility, while meeting your overall investment needs.

529 plans

Since their creation in 1996, 529 plans have become to college savings what 401(k) plans are to retirement savings — an indispensable tool for saving money for a child's or grandchild's college education. That's because 529 plans offer a unique combination of benefits.

There are two types of 529 plans — savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. Though each is governed under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code (hence the name "529" plans), savings plans and prepaid tuition plans are very different savings vehicles.

Note: Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses associated with 529 plans before investing; specific plan information is available in each issuer's official statement. There is the risk that investments may not perform well enough to cover college costs as anticipated. Also, before investing, consider whether your state offers any favorable state tax benefits for 529 plan participation, and whether these benefits are contingent on joining the in-state 529 plan. Other state benefits may include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors.

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