Forbes: If you are not using a 529 you are leaving money on the table

Elizabeth Harris wrote a really interesting article for Forbes last summer about 529s and the fact that they are sadly underutilized.  Only 13% of Americans currently use a 529 Savings plan.  In my own research on the Oregon 529, I found that most family who own a 529 Plan live in middle and upper-class communities around the Portland area.  The rest of Oregon relies on other savings or like 42% of college students, borrow money from family members or the government in the form of college loans.  This is what makes the low number of 529 plan users rather tragic.  Instead of taking advantage of the tax benefits of saving for college, families borrow money and then have to pay back loans with accruing interest.  (More about College Loans later) The tax benefits are not even the best part of 529 plans.  Using a 529 to save a little bit each year quickly adds up to real money.  Harris gives the sample figure of $3000 a year in savings adding up to $88,617 by the time your kid is ready for college.  The final figure is based on 5% growth and 18 years of savings.  But the principal of long-term and ongoing investment can make a significant difference in how your family will pay for college.  For some families, $3000 a year might seem like a stretch.  What about $80 a month for college or about $1000 a year?  Given the same 5% growth and consistent deposits, the family would have over $27K to pay for college.  Not enough for four years, but combined with community college or credits from high school IB or AP classes, $27K is a great help. 

This is what the Grads app is designed to address.  Getting more people to use a 529, but especially to target families who have a hard time budgeting $3000 a year for college.  The Grads app is a tool making saving easier and brings extended families together to help your kids afford the college they deserve.


See more in the article from Forbes