3 Key Ways You Can Help a Child or Grandchild Pay for College – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

As college costs continue to rise, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for students to pay for it themselves. The total student loan debt in the United States has risen to a staggering $1.75 trillion. This has led many parents and grandparents to want to help carry a portion of their child’s or grandchild’s college debt. They shouldn’t jeopardize their own financial future by entering retirement with someone else’s student loan debt, though.

Even so, the number of adults over the age of 62 with student loan debt has reached a startling 2.4 million borrowers. If parents and grandparents plan on helping to pay for college, they need to plan ahead to stay debt-free in their golden years. There are many ways they can start planning now to help with college costs while still saving for their retirement.

529 plans offer tax advantages

529 plans are investment accounts that can be used to pay for education for a specific beneficiary. Choosing a 529 plan also comes with tax benefits. It will grow federal tax-free and will not be taxed when the money is taken out. It’s important to note that you can use a 529 plan from any state to help cover education expenses in any other state. However, depending on the state you live in, you may qualify for even more tax deductions with a 529 plan. There are seven states that provide a state income-tax break for any contributions to a 529 plan: Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana and Pennsylvania. There are no contribution limits for 529 plans, but there are limits for the tax deductions. These plans can be used for more than just college tuition.

For example, they can help cover student loan repayments and college expenses such as books or meal plans. You can even use them to help pay for K-12 tuition costs. While a good option, 529 plans do come with a few disadvantages. If you are looking into financial aid for college, 529 plans can work against you. You can also run into higher fees with these plans. These downfalls could be why many are hesitant to use these plans for college.

Educational savings accounts are a little different than 529 plans

A Coverdell education savings account (ESA) is very similar to a 529 plan. The earnings in this account can grow tax-deferred, and withdrawals are tax-free when used for educational purposes, as they are in a 529 plan. However, the beneficiary will have to pay taxes on any distributions that exceed their qualified educational expenses. You can contribute only $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, so if you exceed that amount, the rest will be taxed. While very similar, there are a few differences between an ESA and a 529 plan. Contributors …….

Source: https://www.kiplinger.com/personal-finance/careers/college/605224/3-key-ways-you-can-help-a-child-or-grandchild-pay-for

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