With the ever-increasing costs of higher education, state-sponsored 529 plans have quickly become a popular vehicle for saving and investing for these expenses. However, a drawback of these tax-advantaged plans has been what to do with leftover funds should the beneficiary not need them. In this month’s blog post, we will discuss what options are available to those with an unused 529 plan funds, including insight into the exciting new option introduced with the passage of the SECURE 2.0 Act in 2022.
In 2023, the SECURE Act 2.0 for retirement savings becomes federal law, reshaping tax incentives for years to come by making numerous changes to existing retirement account rules and related tax breaks. Though there are many changes, below are some of the ones that will impact high wage earners, those still working, and those who have or are about to retire.
What happens if your child ends up not spending all (or any) of the funds in their 529 plan? Maybe they received a scholarship or opted to enroll in a U.S. Military Academy, and now you need to figure out what to do with the money you saved for them. Although it may seem farfetched that your child will not need every penny, about 10% of families end up having funds leftover that the original beneficiary did not need. To put that in perspective, there are more than 14.8 million 529 plan accounts, and at the end of 2020, they were holding a record-high of $425 billion! If you and your child find yourselves in such a predicament, don’t worry, you have plenty of options to ensure the remaining money is put to good use.
According to an article by Forbes, the average total cost of a four-year degree is now over $100,000, more than double, even when accounting for inflation, than it was 30 years ago. Perhaps even more shocking, the total college price tag grew nearly eight times as fast as wages over the same period. Working your way through college is nearly impossible and it’s no secret that student loans make up the largest slice of non-housing debt in the U.S.
So how do you plan for and advise your child as they weigh their post high school graduation options?