By Patricia Roberts, Chief Operating Officer, Gift of College, Inc.

November 15, 2022

If you’re at a loss for gift ideas for a child of any age this holiday season, consider a gift that can help them to realize their future academic and career dreams. Consider investing in a child’s future by contributing to an already established 529 college savings account or opening an account of your own for the child’s benefit. Either approach will result in a priceless and memorable gift, which can lead to endless possibilities. 

Here are 10 reasons why a gift toward college is a perfect gift this holiday season:

1. Easy to give

Many 529 college savings plans make it easy to open a new account or make a gift contribution to an existing account. You don’t need to be the parent of the future student, or even related, to open a new account or to be invited to contribute to an account established by someone else for a child you care about.

2. Sure to fit 

A contribution to a college savings account is the type of gift that can grow with a child versus one that will be quickly outgrown. And given the flexibility of 529 plans and the broad uses for the funds at schools of many types across the U.S. and the world, it is truly a one-size-fits-all gift that can take a child on whatever academic and career path they choose. 

3. Everyone wins

Everyone wins with a gift toward college – the child’s parents will appreciate having some extra support with their savings journey, the future student will have more money to use when the time comes to pursue education after high school, and the gift giver wins by not having to spend time shopping for “just the right” gift.

4. Environmentally friendly

A contribution to a college savings account does not add to the environmental challenges brought on by increased holiday package deliveries and returns, discarded boxes and wrapping paper, and unwanted gifts that sometimes wind up in landfills.

5. Great discussions

A contribution to a college savings account can prompt age-appropriate conversations about a child’s interests and talents and what forms of education and careers are of potential interest. 

6. Increased college attendance

Research suggests that even a small amount of college savings can increase college attendance and completion.  A low- and moderate-income child with educational savings of $499 or less are approximately three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate than a child with no savings account.

7. Less student loan debt

Any amount contributed to a college savings account can help a future student avoid or minimize student loan debt and the stress associated with it. As such, contributions to college savings accounts are gifts that can help improve a child’s financial and emotional well-being in their adult years.

8. Trendsetting potential

A gift of this type can be a real head-turner at holiday celebrations. When you invest in a child’s future through a 529 college savings account contribution, you are giving other loved ones a great idea to pursue as well. You may just start a valued tradition that can greatly benefit a child you love.

9. Many thanks

While the real joy is in giving such a gift, there’s no doubt that you’ll receive many thanks for your thoughtfulness in doing so. The child for whom you contributed the funds will surely appreciate your generosity when the time for post-secondary education rolls around.

10. Feels so good

Unlike more traditional gifts that are often accompanied by buyer’s remorse, a gift toward college is one you can really feel good about. As someone who has made it a tradition of giving the gift of education to the children in my life each holiday season, I can attest to how truly rewarding the experience is. 

About the author:

Patricia Roberts is the Chief Operating Officer of Gift of College, Inc. and the author of Route 529: A Parent’s Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans.