- Eric Walter, CFP®
If you wish to contribute to your school age child’s/grandchild’s education, those expenses should be part of your financial plan. Considerations include the child’s age, years to attend, cost, plan tax efficiency for you and them, control of assets, etc. Contributions to plans are not federally tax deductible but some plans have state specific income tax deductions. Contributions also count toward annual gifting limits- $15k per person. All information provided as of tax year 2018.
529 Savings (529 Plans) & Prepaid Tuition Plans (Prepaid Plans)
Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)
Uniform Gifts (UGMAs) & Transfers (UTMAs) to Minors Acts
Series EE (EE Bonds) & I (I Bonds) Savings Bonds
Beneficiary May be Changed:
YES: 529 & Prepaid Plans, Coverdell ESAs, EE & I Bonds
NO: UGMAs & UTMAs
YES (Timing of deposits may affect.): 529 & Prepaid Plans, Coverdell ESAs, UGMAs & UTMAs
NO: EE & I Bonds
Financial Aid Calculation Impact:
GRANDPARENT OWNS: No- in year distributed; Yes- in year after distributed
PARENT OWNS: Yes
CHILD OWNS: Yes
Note: For more information contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 or visit studentaid.ed.gov.
Ownership (control of distributions):
ADULT UNTIL BECOMES CHILD: UGMAs 18-21 & UTMAs 18-25
ADULT OR CHILD: 529 & Prepaid Plans, Coverdell ESAs, EE & I Bonds
YES (lifetime): 529 & Prepaid Plans (Ranges by state plan from $250k and up.)
YES (annual): Coverdell ESAs ($2k per child), EE Bonds (electronic only- $10k) & I Bonds
(electronic- $10k & paper- $5k)- may buy all 3 up to individual limits
NO: UGMAs & UTMAs
Income Limitations to Contribute:
YES: Coverdell ESAs (AGI phase out: single $95k-$110k & married filing jointly $190k-$220k)
NO: 529 & Prepaid Plans, UGMAs & UTMAs, EE & I Bonds
YES: 529 Plans, Coverdell ESAs, UGMAs & UTMAs
MAYBE (guaranteed & non-guaranteed vehicles): 529 Plans, Coverdell ESAs, UGMAs & UTMAs
NO: Prepaid Plans (simply tuition credits), EE Bonds (fixed rate*), I Bonds (fixed rate + inflation factor**)
*5/1/18 – 10/31/18 issue @0.10%, compounded semiannually
**5/1/18 – 10/31/18 issue @2.52% (fixed @0.30% + semiannual inflation @1.11%)
Taxation of Annual Interest, Dividends, &/or Capital Gains:
TAX-DEFERRED: EE &I Bonds (Must elect deferral.), 529 & Prepaid Plans, Coverdell ESAs
TAXABLE: UGMAs & UTMAs (at “Kiddie Tax*” rate)
*First $1,050 tax-free per child under age 19 or 24 if student (not per account), $1,051-$2,100 child’s rate, $2,101+ parent’s rate.
Taxation of Capital Distributions:
TAX-FREE (qualified expenses within limits): EE & I Bonds* (if owner is married, must file joint return), 529 & Prepaid Plans, Coverdell ESAs
TAXABLE: UGMAs & UTMAs (at “Kiddie Tax” rate)
*Must purchase at age 24+ for tax exclusion.
Note: Always speak with your CPA for state specific tax information.
YES: Coverdell ESAs (by child’s age 30*), EE & I Bonds (Redeem same year as expense.), UGMAs (18-21) & UTMAs (18-25)- state specific ages; may transfer to 529 Plan as cash
NO: 529 & Prepaid Plans; may roll to family member, i.e. siblings, cousins, in-laws, etc.
Qualified Expenses for Plan Disbursement:
PREPAID PLANs: tuition & fees, some cover room & board
529 PLANs: tuition & fees, room & board, books & supplies, required equipment (may be used for K-12 or private school expenses, state specific, up to $10k per year)
COVERDELL ESAs: tuition & fees, room & board, books & supplies, required
equipment (may be used for K-12 or private school expenses)
EE & I BONDs: tuition & fees, such as laboratory and other required course expenses- room & board and books not included
UGMAs & UTMAs: No requirement to use for educational expenses.