Last-Minute Gift Idea that Lasts a Lifetime: Money for College

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A new online donation feature of the U.Fund, the official Massachusetts 529 College Savings Plan, lets family and friends contribute directly to a child's college savings account, an easy way to give a gift on holidays and special occasions.

Boston, MA: In the last-minute dash to buy presents, savvy shoppers can quickly and easily give a child a gift that lasts a lifetime by contributing to their college savings. A new online donation feature of the U.Fund, the official Massachusetts 529 College Savings Plan, makes it easier than ever for family and friends to help a child save for college, says the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority.

“Giving the gift of college is a great way for grandparents, other relatives and friends to help parents and children save for higher education. The money spent on a toy that may break or lose its luster could be tucked away in a dedicated college savings fund, growing as an investment. Helping parents and children lessen the amount of student loan debt and achieve the dream of a college education is one of the best gifts we can give the ones we love,” said Martha Savery, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at MEFA.

To give the gift of college this season, Savery offers the following ideas:

  • If the parents have an account with U.Fund, Massachusetts 529 college savings plan, ask the parents if they have set up a gift page for their child. This page allows relatives and friends to make a direct contribution online without having to know account numbers. Parents can set up the page and send a link to family and friends.
  • Make a gift certificate in the form of a diploma, rolled up and tied with a ribbon, to note the contribution made through the gifting page.
  • Instead of simply giving money to a child, dedicating the gift toward college also sends the message that the giver believes the child will be successful in college.
  • Setting aside money from family and friends given on holidays, birthdays and special occasions in a college savings account can add up and grow over time when invested. A 529 plan, such as the U.Fund, was created by the federal government to encourage college savings and allow withdrawals of principal and earnings tax-free when spent on qualified education expenses.

While 61% t of parents say they are saving for college, and 34% are using an account dedicated to college,* not all parents in Massachusetts are putting money aside. A monetary gift with a note about helping to pay for college could start an important conversation and lead to the creation of a dedicated savings account.

For more information on saving for college and the U.Fund, visit http://www.mefa.org, or call the college financing experts at MEFA at (800) 449-MEFA.

The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) is a self-financing quasi-public authority, not reliant upon state or federal appropriation, working to make higher education more accessible and affordable for students and families across the Commonwealth. MEFA’s mission to increase access and college affordability is achieved through community education programs, financing expertise on planning, saving, and paying for higher education, and college savings and education loan programs. In its over thirty-year history, MEFA has assisted hundreds of thousands of families finance a college education. Follow MEFA on Twitter through @mefatweets and on Facebook at mefaMA.    

*Source: MEFA/Fidelity College Savings Indicator Study August 2014

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