Did you know you can use 529 Savings Plan to pay for College Planning?

Qualified Expenses For A 529 Plan A 529 plan only covers expenses that are related to post-secondary education. However, there are rules. Most qualified expenses cannot exceed the cost estimates made by the school that the 529 beneficiary will be attending. Typically the school’s financial aid office will mail this to students or post it on their website. For example, you can find the estimated cost of attendance for UCLA here.

Post-secondary education includes college, university, trade schools, vocational programs, and registered apprenticeship programs. Here’s what’s covered:

Tuition – Tuition is a qualified expense for both full and part time students at accredited institutions. To be accredited simply means the college or university has passed standards set by a reviewing committee. While the majority of colleges are accredited be sure to ask the financial aid office ahead of time.

Room and Board – If the student is attending college half-time or more and the room and board are paid directly to the college or university this is a qualified expense. If room and board are to be paid to a landlord and grocery store, the budget is set by the school and is available to students who are attending half-time or greater. If the rent paid to a landlord is higher than the school’s room and board estimate the excess is not considered a qualified expense.

For example, using our UCLA estimated cost above, it’s estimated that it will cost $9,800 for room and board off campus. That means that you cannot use more than $9,800 per year from your 529 plan to be “qualified”.

Technology Items – You can use a 529 plan to cover technological needs such as computers, printers, laptops and even internet service. These items must be used by the plan beneficiary while enrolled in college. You can also use this to get software that’s required for school – for example, maybe you need to install Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop to get the right tools for class. Make sure you check out your campus bookstore and look for “Education” versions of software – it’s much cheaper!

Books and Supplies – Books and supplies are qualified expenses but only the ones that are required. Also, this budget will be set by the school, but if it’s a required expense of your class, you can always use your 529 money. Beyond textbooks, some common items include lab supplies, scantrons, and even basics like pen and paper.

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