Grandparents, 11 grandchildren and college savings

Chris Farrell May 3, 2012

Question: What instruments do you recommend for saving for our 11 grandchildren’s postsecondary education? We have recently sold a property and intend to invest $10,000 per child, ranging in age from less than 1 year to 15 years of age. Thanks, Pat (Grandmommie), St George Island, FL

Answer: What a wonderful idea. For a variety of reasons, I think the best option for the sum you’re thinking about is a 529 college savings plan for each of your grandchildren. The money grows free of taxes and the withdrawal is tax-free when it goes toward qualified postsecondary education expenses. Those qualified expenses include tuition, room and board, fees, books, supplies and equipment. What’s more, the parents can add money to the accounts. So can relatives and friends if they want. In general, I would stick with conservative investment options, especially for the grandkids that are 15 years old. College isn’t that for off for them.

A good resource for learning more about 529s is Joseph Hurley’s Saving for College website. The website Finaid has a section called Tips for Grandparents on Helping Grandchildren Pay for College.

The 529 is the most cost effective investment choice from a financial aid and tax perspective.

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