By: Tim Gorrell, Executive Director, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority
December 18, 2017

Why is it so hard to start the conversation about a college fund? Parents tell us they would love for the family to help. Grandparents say they’re waiting for their kids to ask. Extended family and friends have no idea what to do or how to do it. Somebody needs to take the reins here, and like most important things, it probably needs to be the family leader. You!

Loved ones want to present gifts with value. Let them know your children don’t need any more toys, but a contribution towards their education fund will have a lasting impact. Share that a college education or post-secondary vocational training can bring your children more opportunities in life.

If you’ve already opened a 529 account, talk to your loved ones about your decision to save for your child’s college costs as means to fulfill your dreams for their future. Then ask if they would like to come along side you to support this dream. They are welcome to give to a level that fits their budget. Some college savings programs have no minimum contribution requirements; other ones are as low as $15, which can grow to a much larger amount through compound interest in the 529 account.

Research your state’s 529 plan benefits before talking to loved ones. Some programs offer a state tax income deduction or credit for contributions made to a 529 plan for residents of that state. If your plan does, then share that their contributions to your child’s 529 account can also help them when it comes to tax time. As the end of year draws near, check your state’s 529 plan to see when the account contribution deadline is for 2017 and let your loved ones know.

Gift givers have a variety of means to contribute to a 529 college savings plan. They can write a check to the 529 plan with the beneficiary’s account number on it in order to receive their state tax income deduction or credit. Many states also offer a gift-giving platform or special contribution or gift slips to encourage your friends and family to give to a 529 account.

So take a deep breath and guide the gift conversation to your child’s 529 plan. Loved ones want to support your child now and in the future. Their gift contribution to a college savings account can do just that.


About the author

Tim Gorrell is the executive director of Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. For more than 25 years, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority has sponsored and administered CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 College Savings Program. CollegeAdvantage oversees more than 633,000 accounts and over $10.88 billion in assets. Visit or call 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734) for more information.