By Patricia Roberts, Chief Operating Officer, Gift of College, Inc.
February 9, 2021
As a parent of a college student, there’s a lot that I and my family have grown to love through the years about saving for college with a 529 plan account. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
As first-time parents still paying down our own student loan debt, we were determined to do all we could to make sure our son would have a less financially stressful time pursuing his educational goals someday. Taking a few minutes to begin the process of saving for his future by opening a 529 college savings account during those early days of parenthood took a tremendous weight off our minds, and we loved the sense of peace we experienced by doing so.
- We loved the ability to start small, automate contributions, and invite others to contribute
We loved being able to start with just a small initial deposit, and we loved the convenience of being able to contribute to our 529 account directly from our paychecks at work. Having deposits automatically made gave us less to think about and helped us stick to our plan. We also loved that we could conveniently invite friends and family to contribute to our son’s 529 account in lieu of more traditional birthday and holiday gifts. And friends and family loved this too — as it took the stress and guesswork out of gift-giving.
- We loved the wide array of educational options
When high school rolled around and it came time to begin considering educational options, we loved knowing that the account could be used for so many different forms of higher education at a wide range of post-secondary institutions across the U.S. — and even across the world. Also, as a result of being financially prepared, we loved the freedom our son had to choose a school and major that were a good fit, and we also loved that he was able to pursue a study abroad program along with volunteer roles and unpaid internships that interested him.
- We loved the priceless financial lessons we learned by having a plan and sticking to it
As a family, we loved learning about the power of discussing and prioritizing goals and putting a plan in place to achieve them. Our son recently shared that through the small, consistent steps we took over the years to save for his education with our 529 plan account, he learned the value of breaking big goals into smaller, more manageable steps. We love knowing that we set a good example for him and that he will carry what he learned into adulthood.
- We love the relief of a debt-free degree
And with college graduation in the not-so-distant future, we love that we will be able to celebrate a debt-free degree and look back with pride on the steps we took as a family to make this dream a reality.
About the Author
Patricia Roberts is the Chief Operating Officer of Gift of College, Inc. Prior to this, she held key legal, product and 529 program management roles at major financial services firms, and designed and launched several first-of-their-kind philanthropic programs through which families received seed money for college savings accounts along with valuable financial education and incentives to help them save on their own. She is the author of Route 529: A Parent’s Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans.