School’s Out, but College is Looming

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College Saving Plans Network Encourages Parents to Save During the Summer Months

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"Summer is a good time for parents to review their college savings plans to ensure that they are still aligned with their savings goals, and that they’re satisfied with their investment selections and the amounts they are contributing,” said Joan Marshall.

School may be out for summer, but now is the perfect time of year for parents to be thinking about their children’s higher education, according to the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN), the leading voice for Section 529 college savings plans. Not only are schedules less hectic during the summer months, but mid-year is also an opportune time for parents to check in on their college savings plans, particularly 529 savings and prepaid tuition plans, since federal guidelines enable parents to modify their 529 investments once per calendar year.

“Summer is a good time for parents to review their college savings plans to ensure that they are still aligned with their savings goals, and that they’re satisfied with their investment selections and the amounts they are contributing,” said Joan Marshall, chair of CSPN and executive director of the College Savings Plans of Maryland. “When it comes to saving for future education expenses, parents shouldn’t have a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality, but rather should monitor and manage their investments to try to keep their family on track toward achieving their higher education goals.”

Six Summer Savings Strategies to Help Finance Your Child’s Higher Education:
1.    Have a plan. If you haven’t started to save for future higher education expenses, the present is always the best time to begin. The earlier you start saving, the more time you have for your money to hopefully grow. There are many ways to start saving with 529 plans, and these plans offer families a variety of tax-advantaged and affordable ways to start. Opening a 529 plan online or with an advisor is easy, and a wealth of information is available to help families choose the right plan for them. CSPN’s website, http://www.collegesavings.org, is the most complete, non-commercial online source of information and offers a unique comparison tool to help families select a 529 savings or prepaid tuition plan based on the criteria most important to them.

2.    Review contributions. If you already have a 529 plan, review your contributions to make sure they align with your current college savings goals. Ensure that you’re investing an amount that fits with both your family’s budget and your savings goals.

3.    Manage automatic contributions. Setting up automatic contributions either from your bank account or through payroll deduction is easy and helps parents commit to saving for college on a regular basis. If you’ve had an automatic contribution in place for some time, review the amount you’re investing each month or each paycheck to make sure you’re keeping in step with rising college costs.

4.    Review investment options. Generally, 529 account owners may adjust their investment allocation once a year, making the middle of the year a good time to consider any changes. Even if you have already exercised your annual option to move your investments, you are able at any time to invest new contributions into a different investment option.

5.    Talk about your plan with your children. According to research from the Center for Social Development, students who have any amount saved for higher education in their name are six times more likely to attend a four-year college than children with no dedicated college savings account. Share your decision to save for higher education with your children to send a powerful, affirmative message that you are serious about helping them prepare for the future.

6.    Invest in yourself. There is no maximum age for 529 savings plan, making them flexible vehicles for parents seeking to fund their own higher education expenses as well. Assets may also be used at eligible schools offering adult career training or advanced degrees, including part-time programs.

About College Savings Plans Network (CSPN)
College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) is the leading voice for Section 529 College Savings Plans, which are the most compelling ways for families to save for college. Affiliated with the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST), CSPN brings together state administrators of 529 savings and prepaid plans as well as their private sector partners and is dedicated to framing national policy affecting 529 plans. CSPN’s website, http://www.collegesavings.org, is the most complete, non-commercial online source for information about 529 plans. It features objective information and convenient tools, including a unique plan comparison tool that families can use to make informed decisions about saving for college.

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Gretchen Steinmiller
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