Saving for a child’s education is an important goal to many families. There are many variables to consider in deciding how much money to save in this area:

  • To what degree do we want to assist in paying for our children’s education? All? Partial? None?
  • Do we want to save for college as though our children will be attending private or state school?
  • Should we prioritize our own retirement over education savings?
  • How much on average does tuition increase annually for a given school?
  • Will grandparents or other family members contribute to education expenses?

Well-intentioned parents will often prioritize college savings over other areas of their financial planning such as their own retirement. Many times families are able to adequately save for both, but if resources are limited, one needs to understand that while there are student loans, there are no loans for retirement.

If there are adequate resources to build savings for education, we then explore the various accounts one is eligible to contribute to. The most popular college savings vehicle is a 529 Plan. 529 Plan funds are contributed post-tax, grow tax free, and may be accessed tax free as long as they are used for post-secondary education expenses such as tuition, room and board, books, etc.

One caveat to a 529 Plan is that if funds are removed for reasons other than education, you will be faced with penalties and taxes. For this reason, many families will fund a 529 Plan as though their children will be attending state school, and then withdrawal funds from other investments or savings if their children end up going to a private or more costly school.

The professionals at Westmark Wealth Management will run a projection to help you to determine how much you will need to save for education expenses, as well as provide guidance on the strategies best suited for the education savings goals of you and your family.

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses associated with 529 plans before investing. More information regarding 529 plans is available in the issuer’s official statement. Please read the official statement carefully before investing. Investors should also consider, before investing, whether their home state or the home state of the beneficiary offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified tuition program. Other states may include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors. Although plans are established and maintained by states, the states do not provide guarantees against investment loss, except in certain very limited cases. As with any investment in a mutual fund or other equity security, an investment in a 529 college savings plan can decrease in value. Earnings on a distribution not used for qualified expenses may be subject to income taxes and a 10% federal penalty. Please note that the availability of tax or other benefits may be conditioned on meeting certain requirements such as residency, purpose for or timing of distributions or other factors as applicable.