How to plan your college savings well ahead of time

We live in a time when so much emphasis is given to the acquisition of a sound college education, preferably in a top league college or university. For many, only such higher education can open the portals to a successful and lucrative career in one’s chosen line of interest. However, while some do have the capability of affording the best college education for their children, for many, it is still a struggle to plan and put aside money month on month for years together in anticipation of their children’s educational requirements. This is where the 529 investment plans offer a ray of hope, provided one is careful in choosing an appropriate plan. The 529 plan is a long-term financial investment plan, offered exclusively to citizens of the USA. Typically, when evaluating the options available for investing in a 529 plan, do consider the following:

Is the plan sold directly to the investor or via an agent? Usually, the former carries lesser fund management fees and commission charges
Is it an age-based savings plan? This is important to provide a cushion for any sudden market slump.
Who is offering the fund? This is important to know because there are a large number of 529 plans offered by a range of financial investment companies and not all are beneficial to the investor
What are the amounts to be invested? It is better to opt for a plan that offers some degree of flexibility with regard to monthly investments, in the event of any unanticipated expenses in a given month.
What are the tax benefits offered as part of the investment plan? Again, this is important to consider. Sometimes, other states may offer better tax breaks than your own. So, do your research carefully.

Based on the above-mentioned criteria, there are some 529 plans that have consistently performed well and have received a high ranking by leading financial consulting companies. Some of these college savings plans include the following companies.

The Vanguard Group is known for offering low-cost funds, therefore lowering the expenses ratio to the investor.

Other sound college savings plans are the College Advantage 529 offered by the Ohio Tuition Trust and the Utah Educational Savings Fund offered by Utah Educational.

Interestingly, all these top ranked savings plan come under the directly sold to the investor category.

These are but some of the top college savings plans available in the Country. As an investor, it is important to start early and invest wisely after doing a thorough research of all available plans.

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