By Hon. Michael L. Fitzgerald
State Treasurer, State of Iowa

While you are looking for the perfect gift on-line Cyber Monday, make sure you visit to find the perfect 529 plan.  Rather than fight the crowds in the mall to find a gift that will be forgotten by next year, give the gift of college savings that will last a lifetime.  State-sponsored 529 plans provide investors the opportunity to save for a loved one’s higher education costs and get a tax benefit for themselves at the same time. With some plans having an initial investment as low as $25 to open an account, it makes the perfect gift for almost anyone to give.

By saving with a state-sponsored 529 plan you will not only be helping the children in your life for their future education, but the 529 plan contributions offer a benefit for the grown-ups too. Contributions and earnings in 529 plans grow free of federal income taxes and are tax-free when used to pay for qualified education expenses at any eligible college, university, community college or accredited technical training school in the United States or abroad.*

Along with the federal tax benefits, thirty-four states and the District of Columbia offer state tax deductions or credits for contributing to certain 529 plans. However, most of the states do require investors to contribute before the end of the year in order to take advantage of the tax benefits in 2013. To learn about the different state 529 plans, visit the “My State’s 529 Plan” tab at the top of the College Savings Plans Network’s (CSPN) website at

As you think about the perfect gift to give this holiday season, be sure to consider opening a 529 plan and begin saving for a child in your life today. In as little as 10 minutes on-line, you could be well on the way of making their dreams a possibility!

*Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.

About the Author:
Iowa State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald is the Chair of the College Savings Plans Network and the administrator of Iowa’s 529 College Savings Programs including College Savings Iowa, with more than $3 billion invested.