Saving for College the Smart way - 529 Plans          


Alabama 529 Plan

Alabama offers two 529 college savings plans.  One is a traditional 529 savings plan called Alabama CollegeCounts 529 and the other is a pre-paid tuition plan called Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Program (PACT).  Given the tax benefits for Alabama residents, one of these 529 plans may be a good option for residents.

Alabama CollegeCounts 529 Plan

Alabama changed from Van Kampen to Union Bank for its 529 plan in 2010, and it's now called the CollegeCounts 529s.  It is a traditional 529 plan that allows you to invest money today and reap tax benefits when you withdraw it to pay for qualified education expenses. 

Type: Direct and Advisor sold - this Alabama 529 plan can be purchased directly from the state or through a local financial advisor.

Fund Family: PIMCO, Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity

Minimums: There is no minimum contribution required to participate in Alabama's CollegeCounts 529 plan.

Maximum Contributions:  Currently, you can contribute to your 529 plan accounts until the balance for a designated beneficiary reaches $350,000.  Once the limit is reached you can't contribute more but earnings can continue to grow.

Tax Benefits:  Good news for Alabama residents -- by investing in your state's 529 plan, you don't pay Alabama state taxes on qualified withdrawals and earnings.  You also get up to a $5,000 tax deduction each year for contributions you make into your Alabama 529 plan.  That equates to a $250 bonus. The amount doubles to $10,000 for married couples filing jointly.  You also get federal income tax benefits as you do not pay income tax on your earnings.  Out-of-state participants still get the federal tax benefits.

Other Benefits: The plan also offers a rewards Visa card called CollegeCounts 529 Rewards Visa.  You can get 1.529% (clever!) of your everyday spending deposited to your CollegeCounts account.

Residency: The Alabama Higher Education Fund 529 plan is open to all United States residents, not just those in Alabama.

You can learn more about the Alabama 529 plan at the official web site.

Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Program (PACT)

Alabama also offers a pre-paid tuition plan that lets you lock in today's rates for college.  It can be used to pay for in-state public colleges as well as private and out-of-state colleges.  However, private and out-of-state college expenses will be prorated and may not be fully covered.

For more information about PACT, visit the official web site.




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