Tip of the Week: The Big 529 Plan Question


Hey, I’m Derek Merkler, the Military Financial Advisor, back with another tip of the week video.  I want to address a question about 529 education savings plans that I often receive from new clients and that I see asked on the internet all of the time.

The question is: what happens if my child does not go to college?

And the question that is really being asked is “what if my child doesn’t go to college when he or she turns 18?”

So there are two things to address when answering this question.  First, is that withdrawals from 529 plans can be used for many more types of education than just your 4-year college degree.  Expenses related to trade schools, vocational programs, associate’s degrees, and graduate degrees all qualify.  And with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in place, you can even withdraw from 529 plans for private primary or secondary school tuition.  So while your child may not go to a 4-year college right after high school, it’s likely that he or she will have some education-related expenses.

One quick note: The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allows for those private primary and secondary school tuition payments but not all states have aligned their laws to match.  If you plan to withdraw from a 529 for this type of expense, please confirm that your state tax laws allow for it.

The other part of that question has to with the timing of those education expenses.  Not every teenager goes on to higher education right after high school.  Or they receive a scholarship.  529 plan withdrawals are not restricted by age.  If withdrawals are not needed, they can be saved and used for a degree at 30 years old. Or 50.

And finally, should your child never ever have a cent of education expenses, you can change the account beneficiary to a qualified family member such as the child’s sibling or even the parents themselves.  Specific rules exist to define a qualified family member, so check the current rules to avoid accidentally triggering a taxable event.

Lastly, keep in mind that, while 529 plans exist at the state level, you are not required to use the plan offered in your state of residence.  I recommend that you evaluate multiple plans to choose which is best as they are not all the same.

So, if your financial plan has you on track to save enough for your other financial goals already, don’t worry about the “what-ifs” in a 529 plan.  It has plenty of flexibility.

Thanks for watching! If you like this video, please share it. And don’t forget to send me a message if you want to discuss more on this topic.  Until next time!



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Remember, the topics discussed in this video are for informational purposes only and that past results do not guarantee future performance. If you would like to discuss your financial situation, please email me at Derek.Merkler@Parsonex.com.


Advisory services offered through Parsonex Advisory Services, Inc., 8310 S.Valley Hwy, Suite 110, Englewood, CO 80112. 303-662-8700.


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