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One of the keys to successful education planning is getting started early.

A client investment advisor can help estimate the potential cost of educating your children, determine how much you need to save and help you choose the education savings option that's most appropriate for your needs.

529 College Savings Plans

First authorized by Congress in 1996, qualified state tuition programs, or 529 college savings plans allow states to offer investors professionally managed, tax-advantaged portfolios to help meet rising college expenses.

Potential benefits:
  • Market-based returns from a portfolio of investments.
  • Complete control over withdrawals for the life of the account.
  • Proceeds may be used at any accredited post-secondary school in the United States.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts

The Coverdell Education Savings Account allows parents, grandparents, friends, and even a child to save for higher education expenses tax-free.

Potential benefits:
  • For parents who want to begin or increase a child's college fund.
  • For grandparents, relatives and friends who want to assist parents in paying for a child's education.
  • Contribute up to $2,000 per child annually until the child reaches age 18.

Custodial Accounts

A custodial account allows the parents to control the investments, yet the child is the owner of the account.

Potential benefits:
  • Each parent can give their child a gift of up to $12,000 (as of 2007) without incurring a gift tax by using the options under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act.3
  • Funds can be put into a variety of investment choices.
  • Parents retain control until the child reaches the age of majority (which varies by state).
  • Under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, parents maintain control over the account for a longer period, and can make different types of investments.
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