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NerdWallet recommends using 529 plans to save for college.
2014-06_NAST SMART 529
There are two types:
- 529 college savings plans are the most common type. Investments grow tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free for educational expenses like tuition, room and board, and required textbooks.
- 529 prepaid plans let you prepay part or all of an in-state public tuition, locking in the tuition at time of payment.
Unlike retirement and other investment accounts, 529 plans are operated by each state, which makes searching for the best option fairly easy; if your state offers a tax deduction for contributing, you’ll likely get the most bang for your buck by contributing to its plan.
But a common misconception is that you have to contribute to your state’s plan.
In reality, you’re free to choose any plan you’d like, so it’s worth comparing your options (and some states, like Colorado, offer more than one 529 plan).
Read more on 529 plan rules here.
We recommend direct-sold plans: They are sold directly by the state, rather than through an advisor, which translates into lower fees for investors. Below are two lists, one for each type of plan, showing direct-sold 529 plans by state.
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College savings plans by state
Prepaid plans by state
The minimum contribution to a prepaid plan depends on the cost of a credit or the monthly payment plan. Check the specific plan for the correct minimum.