Education IRAs and Other IRA Accounts

Most high school graduates are pretty much on their own when it comes to furthering their education, since parents are not able to help due to the increased cost of living throughout the United States. This was usually the case until just recently, when many different programs were developed for aspiring college students to make their dreams come true. Because not all students qualify for financial aid and other programs, they are left to cover the entire cost of their education, including books, lab fees, and living costs.

One program that was recently developed is the Education IRA, which works just like a retirement IRA. IRAs are meant to help people save up for a certain event in their life, like retirement or college education. The Education IRA is meant to help students save up for their college education, unlike other programs, which only offer tax incentives for high education expenses.

An Education IRA is a tax-advantaged saving account program that was created in 1997 by the Taxpayer Relief Act. Anyone is able to contribute to an Education IRA, whether related to the account beneficiary or not. There is a $2,000 maximum limit to an Education IRA, as long as the parent’s earned income is under $190,000. Families with smaller incomes are able to make smaller contributions to the account, and individual filers are also granted the same option for contribution.

An Education IRA is very similar to a Roth IRA, since after-tax money is sheltered in an account to save up for a certain event. The money in the account will remain tax-free as long as all the money will go to education costs only. By setting a savings account up for education costs, a great amount of money can be made by the time a child is ready to continue their education. Education IRAs are best when they are started when the child is young, so they will have many years of built up interest to use for the child’s education.

An Education IRA is a very effective method when trying to get money to put a child through college, since it is earned money rather than a loan. Because all of the money earned on an Education IRA is actually earned and not loaned, there will be no payments to pay back any costs of education. Education loans carry high interest rates and can take years to pay off, but Education IRAs can cover all of the costs without having to pay anything back.

Setting up an education IRA for children is very important, because it gives them a chance to go to college and pursue any dream they wish. With the costs of college education rising, it is important to have a plan to put a child through school while they are still young, until waiting until the last minute and having to take out loans or refinancing homes.

It is not necessary to contribute the entire $2,000 each year for each student, and you actually can choose not to make any contributions in a given year. You can contribute to the account each year until the child reaches eighteen years of age, with the exception of special needs children who can receive contributions after their eighteenth birthday. If funds remain in the Education IRA account after the school is paid for, it is subject to taxes and penalties that are determined by the bank. Unlike most other IRA accounts, Education IRA accounts allow you to withdraw money at any time. It is up to the account holder to make sure the funds are going toward education only, since this is what is outlined in an Education IRA.

You can contact your local bank or financial institution for more information on Education IRA or any other type of IRA accounts.

529 Education Plan Savings You Can Expect

The prime reason why people invest in 529 education plans is not just to pay for their children’s education when they reach college-attending age, but to get some interesting savings for their present and future lives. The primary question people ask when told about this college investment plan is what the savings will be. This is a synopsis of the various kinds of 529 education plan savings that you can look forward to:

1. The money that you put in the 529 education savings plan will grow without any federal or state income taxes, even if they are applicable.

2. The money will be all yours to pay for your kid’s education when he or she begins attending college. Money withdrawn for this purpose is called as qualified withdrawals. All qualified withdrawals are free from federal income taxes. In the majority of states, qualified withdrawals do not attract any state taxes also.

3. One of the best aspects of the 529 education plan savings is that the person who makes the investment, i.e. the accountholder will retain all control of the investments, and not the beneficiary. In case the accountholder decides at a later point of time that the money should not be used for that particular beneficiary, another name can be nominated.

4. There is no age limit at which the 529 plan can be started, and also there is no minimum investment limit as such. In some states, the 529 plans can be kept alive with investments of as low as $15. Costs on the plan can be saved by approaching the state authorities directly. The states appoint an advisor to guide people on how to make the investments.

5. At the same time, people are allowed to invest high amounts in these plans. Some states have maximum limits higher than $300,000. That makes it a very good plan of allowing other fixed assets to grow.

6. The amounts contributed into the 529 state plans can be considered as gifts. But gift tax can be avoided by some planning. In case a person makes a contribution of $60,000 (or $120,000 for a married couple filing jointly), then it can be considered as five years gifts of $12,000 each per person (or $24,000 for a married couple), and hence gift tax can be excluded. However, if further contributions are made within this period, gift tax will be applicable.

7. The assets that are kept within the 529 educational savings plans are protected even in case a person goes bankrupt.

8. Though states provide the 529 plans, one good feature is that they can be used interstate. Any accredited college within the whole of the United States will accept the assets of the 529 plan to pay for the tuition fees. In addition, the money can be used for related educational expenses such as books and computers, educational equipment, accommodation, extra tuition fees, etc.

Education Plans

The third biggest financial goal for a family is saving for a college education. Buying a house and retirement are the first two goals. With the cost of higher education on the rise, parents are beginning to try and set aside money for education as soon as a child is born. There are two popular federal and state sponsored plans that make saving for college easy: the Coverdell and the 529 plan.

The Coverdell Education Savings Account

The Coverdell is a federally sponsored plan that helps you to set aside money for higher education expenses. These expenses include tuition, fees, books and supplies, and even room and board.

The annual contributions are not tax deductible, making the withdrawals tax-free as long as they are used to pay for eligible education costs. There are limits to the amount of annual contributions that can be made each year.

The Coverdell is established as a custodial account, set up by the parent or another adult to pay for the education expenses of a designated beneficiary. The child must be under the age of 18 to establish an account. All balances must be spent within 30 days of the child’s 30th birthday.

Any financial institution that handles IRAs can assist you in setting up a Coverdell, including banks, investment companies and brokerages. The Coverdell is like an IRA in that it is an account. You can put your account funds into any investment you want – stocks, bonds, mutual funds and certificates of deposit are just a few options.

You can establish as many Coverdell accounts as you want to for a child. For example, you could have one account at your local bank and one at a brokerage. Some plans have many fees associated with them. Make sure that the management fees for the multiple accounts don’t cancel out your overall return.

If your child decides not to go to college, he or she will lose a great deal of money. When he turns 30, he must withdraw the balance of the account within 30 days. Any money withdrawn that isn’t used for educationally eligible expenses is taxed and charged a 10 % IRS penalty.

If your child decides not to go to college, that doesn’t mean that his or her child won’t. The child can roll the full balance into another Coverdell plan for another family member, including siblings, nieces and nephews and sons and daughters.

529 College Savings Plans

These state sponsored 529 plans are named after the federal tax code section that provides for their use. All 50 states and the District of Columbia offer 529 plans. The contributions to the plan are not tax deductible, but your withdrawals are tax-free when you use the money for a qualified educational expense.

529 plans fall under two categories: prepaid tuition and savings/investment plans.

The prepaid tuition plan allows you to purchase units of tuition for any state college or university under today’s price. You are buying a semester of attendance for a child. What you buy today will be good for any future date, no matter how tuition rates rise. With private and out-of-state colleges, the child’s prepaid tuition does not include the rise in tuition costs. For example, if you buy two years of college tuition for an out-of-state tuition, you may only receive a single semester in ten years.

Either the beneficiary or the contributor must reside in the state that the 529 is formed in.

With savings plans, an account is opened and investments are chosen within the account. If you start the plan when a child is young, you can choose some aggressive investments for long term growth. As the child ages, you can move your investments into more conservative options.

The withdrawals are tax-free if they are used to pay for college expenses. These expenses can include tuition, books and room and board. An easy way to think about a 529 savings plan is as a 401(k) dedicated to educational expenses. As with a 401(k), there are many different investment choices. Many states programs are open to nonresidents, so look around for the best plans.

If your child decides not to go to college you have three options. You can hang on to the savings plan in case your child decides to attend college at a later date. The account can be transferred to another family member for college expenses. You could also cash out the account and just take the loss. Most states will charge a penalty of 10% of the earnings for any withdrawal not used for education. On top of this, a federal penalty of 10% will be charged also. There is no penalty for withdrawals due to death or disabled status.

The tax-free advantages of a college savings plan makes 529 plans beneficial, but they aren’t right for everyone. If you have a 529 prepaid tuition plan, applying for financial aid is affected by reducing your financial aid on a dollar per dollar basis. Low income families, who are often eligible for large amounts of financial aid, are advised not to participate in 529 plans.

Coverdell plans will also decrease the amount of financial aid available, but only by about 5 to 6% of the account’s value. College savings plans are great for families that will not qualify for financial aid or only qualify for loans. Many times a family doesn’t have enough money to pay for college, but has too much money to get help.

The tax-free status on 529 plans will end in 2010, but many advisors expect that Congress will extend it.