Parents: Study up on SMART529

Sep 13 2017

Transitioning from the slower pace of summer vacation to the hustle and bustle of a new school year can be overwhelming. It can be easy to get caught up in the new routine of homework and after school activities. Just getting through each day, then each week…. soon you will be a month or two into the school year.

Where am I going with this? It’s simple, time flies! Elementary school students soon become middle school students, which soon become high school students. Then before you know it, you have a high school graduate! What comes after graduation may vary for each child, but it is important to be prepared, whatever path your child may choose.

That’s where SMART529 can help. This savings plan is designed to help you maximize your savings potential as your child grows. Of course, the earlier you start, the more you can save. If you have a new addition to your family now is the time to start an account for them. Take advantage of the SMART529 Bright Babies program where you can get $100 free when you open an account before your child’s first birthday or the first anniversary of an adopted child’s gotcha day. By saving the first five years of your child’s life, you could potentially add more than $16,000* to their SMART529 plan. 

If your children are already in school, not to worry, it is never too late to start saving for your child’s education expenses. Remember, every dollar in savings is one less dollar needed in student loans. So every little bit does help! Plus, there are ways to catch up or add to your savings if you missed that early start.

  • Consider making larger monthly contributions.
  • Ask loved ones to consider buying a smaller gift for birthdays and holidays and use the rest of what they planned to spend to make a contribution to your child’s SMART592 plan.
  • As a family, take any bonuses or extra money like rebates and tax returns and put those directly in savings. (Speaking of taxes…did you know that West Virginia residents receive a state tax benefit for all contributions to a SMART529 account? Now that’s a win-win!)

Whether you start your SMART529 account when your child is a baby, or when your baby is in high school, saving for their education is never a waste. Even if you don’t save enough to pay for his school expenses, just think about all the extra costs you can offset like books, supplies, or room and board.

And don’t worry, your SMART529 savings will never go to waste, even if your child decides college isn’t the right path for them. Maybe your child prefers to attend beauty school or wants to train to be a mechanic. You may still be able to use your SMART529 savings to cover those expenses. You can use this tool to determine if the institution your child is considering is eligible for 529 purposes.

So parents, here is your homework assignment. In between homework and the next practice session, take time to sit down and learn more about SMART529. Meet with an investment planner, or do some research and set up an account on your own. Either way, take action! If you already have a SMART529 account for your child-that’s great, but it never hurts to take a moment to review your investment options and make changes as necessary. And don’t forget to utilize the suggestions listed above for maximizing your savings.

*Assuming a $100 a month contribution with a 6% return rate.

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