By Michael L. Fitzgerald, State Treasurer of Iowa

September 14, 2021


We often hear the phrase, “All of the joy without the responsibility,” tied to being a grandparent. While this is true at times, it’s not always an easy transition to this new stage in life. Some common questions a grandparent might have are, “How can I play a role in my grandchild’s life?” or “What knowledge can I pass on to future generations?” The unexpected answer – a 529 plan.

By establishing a 529 account for my grandsons and granddaughter, I found the perfect way to transition to this new phase of life. What many grandparents may not realize is it can be easy for them, too. By opening a 529 account for your grandchildren, you’re not only supporting their education, but also passing on the importance of working hard to achieve your dreams.

Most state’s 529 savings plans have the flexibility to allow your grandchild to attend any accredited education program around the country and abroad. Whether they choose to pursue a trade school, apprenticeship program, four-year degree or other eligible option, the funds in a 529 account can support those education dreams.

As the owner of the account, grandparents can have peace of mind knowing they remain in control of the funds. The money is always yours. You choose how and when the funds are used. Did your grandchild decide to take a gap year? Keep the money in their account and give it the opportunity to grow while they plan their next steps. Did your grandchild receive a scholarship for tuition? Transfer the funds to another grandchild or use it to pay for other qualified expenses like books and supplies. These decisions are yours to make.

I could go on about the benefits of a 529 account, like the many tax incentives, but what’s important is the relationship you want to have with your grandchild. By supporting their education dreams, you’re telling them, “I believe in you. You can do great things and I will help you get there.” It doesn’t get much better than that.


About the Author: Iowa State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald is the past chair of the College Savings Plans Network and the administrator of Iowa’s 529 Education Savings Programs, College Savings Iowa and the IAdvisor 529 Plan, with over $6.9 billion invested and more than $4.2 billion in qualified withdrawals.