• Investing In A Child’s Future Is Rewarded

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 30, 2016

    We were happy to receive a letter from the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, asking us, as a very earlier customer, to reflect on this program and the meaning and value it has had for our family.

    It’s easy to look back and have positive feelings on good financial decisions that we made. We were excited when the State of Ohio made this college savings program available because, with four children under the age of 12, we knew college costs were going be a big number the future. The program made it easy to save, a little bit at a time, for each child. From the start of our investing in the program 1990 through 2005, we contributed regularly to the program and we encouraged the children to make deposits, when possible, through earnings from their part-time jobs.

    Our four children are all now grown and each of them a college graduate, and three of them with master’s degrees. We are a very traditional, middle-class family, who places great trust in the value of education. Even though the money invested in the OTTA was only able to fund a portion of college expenses, it was vital in making our college dreams a reality and was able to keep our children’s college debts reasonable.

    Our oldest daughter, Janet, used her funds to attend Gannon University in Erie, PA, to obtain her degree in physician assistant studies. It was wonderful that our Ohio savings was able to be used in a private, out-of-state college. She has subsequently obtained her master’s degree and is employed as a pediatric surgical physician assistant at Mercy Health in Toledo.

    Our next two daughters, Carolyn, and Jill, both attended Wright State University to obtain their bachelor’s degrees. Carolyn has her degree in early childhood education and is currently a stay-at-home mom, using her education to raise two of our perfect grandchildren. Jill, who earned a bachelor’s degree from WSU in business administration, is currently an admissions and communications coordinator at Wright State University Lake Campus in Celina. She also obtained her MBA from Wright State.

    The youngest member of our family, David, is a graduate of the University of Toledo with his bachelor’s and master’s degree in recreation and leisure studies. He is a senior program director and teen director at the Wolf Creek YMCA in Maumee, Ohio.

    Our family and the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority have had many changes in the past years. But the fundamentals remain the same; there is great value in education and investing in a child’s future is rewarded. We are so grateful, that through their hard work, and our financial help our children are all skilled and productive members of society. Our trust in the CollegeAdvantage program continues and we are currently contributing to CollegeAdvantage accounts to each of our eight grandchildren. These little ones may not be excited about receiving a notice on their birthdays and Christmas time that grandpa and grandma put money is their accounts, but eventually they will understand what a great gift this can be! 

    We would encourage all Ohioans to learn about the opportunity and ease of using the CollegeAdvantage program and that making small, regular investments in a college savings program can make a big, rewarding result!

     

    Elmer and Karen Klepaski

    Coldwater, Ohio

  • Office Closed For Labor Day

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 29, 2016

    The offices of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority will be closed on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016 in observance of Labor Day.

    Because of this holiday, our Customer Service department (1-800-AFFORD-IT) will be closed for the day, though they are available to assist you on regular business days from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET before or after the holiday.

    Please be aware that you may transact business online as usual, where you can even make account contributions. However, please note that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will close in observance of the Labor Day holiday as well. As such, any transaction requested on a holiday, weekend, or after the NYSE closes will be processed on the next business day.

    In recognition of the holiday, the Ohio History Connection will be hosting events around the state during the weekend to celebrate Labor Day. Ohio Village will be hosting the Ohio Cup Vintage Base Ball Festival Sept. 3-4.

    Additionally, there are many festivals scheduled around Ohio during the Labor Day weekend.

  • How Much Should I Save?

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 26, 2016

    When considering your child’s future, you may ask yourself “How much should I save for my child’s future college expenses?” Although costs can be compared across colleges, this question comes down to personal preference. To help navigate through the options, CollegeAdvantage has some guidance to help you select a savings goal that’s right for your family and your circumstances.

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    Maybe you want to cover some of your child’s college expenses, like books or part of tuition. Maybe you would like to pay half of their tuition and room and board with your child covering the rest of the costs. Or maybe your goal is to cover nearly every college expense for your child.

    Whichever scenario you choose, College Advantage offers useful tools to help set and meet your savings goal. If you need help determining how much to put aside each month, use our College Savings Planner to receive personalized saving information. After inputting your college savings goals and examining your total projected costs, you will receive an estimated monthly amount needed to meet your savings objective. Please note, this is an example for illustrative purposes only. For additional advice, consult with your legal, financial, tax, or other advisor.

    To create a savings plan on College Savings Planner, enter your child’s name and age. From there, a line will automatically populate the annual cost for college: public, in-state, and four-year college. There is also an option to select a specific out-of-state university. The following box will ask you to input the amount you plan to contribute, whether it be monthly or yearly, then you will be provided with an estimated savings balance. From there, you’ll receive an annual rate as well as how much of the costs will be covered by you.

    So with that information, you can now apply it to an example. Imagine Brad, who is a one-year-old child. Let’s plan on him entering a public, in-state, or four-year college program. The 529 plan will start with an initial $2,000 contribution, planned monthly contribution of $200, and expected coverage of half of his college costs. With a selected hypothetical rate of 6%, hit calculate to receive the results. These will include the estimated total education cost, the amount to be funded, the dollar amount you will cover based on current savings and if there’s any additional steps to take to reach your saving goal. Again, please remember that this example is for illustrative purposes only. You should consult with your legal, financial, tax, or other advisor for advice. You can keep working on the College Savings Planner until you create a plan that’s right for you and your family. Remember, it’s your plan, your way.

    If you are still considering a College Advantage Direct 529 Plan, check out the cost of waiting tool to see how waiting can affect the balance in your account. The earlier you start, the longer you can take advantage of compound interest. Are you looking at the investment options and are wondering what your risk tolerance is? We can help you determine it. Lastly, if you are currently saving money in a taxable savings account, rather than taking advantage of the tax-free growth in a 529 plan, we can show how the difference can affect the account balance.

    If you’re already putting money aside in an Ohio 529 Plan, you can track your investment performance, see if you need to change your saving strategy as your child grows, or perform regular maintenance on your 529 account.

    Outside of automatic recurring contributions, there are also many ways to add to your 529 account. You can contribute your tax return refund, and add your disappearing expenses (those costs that are in your family’s budget for a limited time span — like daycare) to the account. You can also join Upromise, in which your membership can earn you cash back on purchases you would typically buy.

    Lastly, you don’t have to save on your own. Family and friends want to give meaningful gifts for the milestones in your child’s life. You can ask them to consider giving the gift of college by contributing to your child’s 529 plan in lieu of gifts for baby showers, birthdays, holidays, graduations, and many other special occasions. Through Ugift, you can set up a code which authorizes gift givers to donate online to your 529 plan without needing the actual account number. You’ll simply give a Ugift code to your family and friends. They can then visit Ugift529.com to make their electronic contribution securely from their bank account.

    And as you save, don’t forget about another tax advantage of a 529 plan. If you are an Ohio taxpayer, contributions to CollegeAdvantage may be deducted from your Ohio taxable income in any amount up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap.  Should you choose to contribute more than $2,000 in a calendar year, any amounts above $2,000 may be deducted in future years, in increments up to $2,000 per year, until all contributions have been deducted. If you have accounts for each of your children, you receive the deduction to your Ohio taxable income for contributions made to each beneficiary’s account.

    So, how much should you save for your child’s future college expenses? That is up to you. But CollegeAdvantage is here and ready to help you start.

    The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority does not provide investment advice. The information contained herein is informational only and should not be relied upon exclusively to make your investment decisions. Investment options should be selected based on your investment goals, risk tolerance, and savings time horizon.

  • Can Others Contribute To A 529 Plan?

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 24, 2016

    You work hard to save money for your child’s future college costs. But did you know that there is more than one way to save in a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan? You can visit the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan website and follow the life stage guide to calculate the best ways to optimize your account​. You can also contribute to your tax return as well as add some disappearing expenses (i.e. costs that are in a family’s budget for a limited time span) to the account. Another way to benefit from contributing to a 529 plan is by joining Upromise. With this membership, you’re earning cash back as you shop online, dine out, fill your gas tank, buy groceries, book hotels, and more. By linking your Upromise account to your CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan, your earnings are automatically transferred on a periodic basis, subject to a $25 minimum. If you sign up for automatic recurring contributions, you could transfer money from your bank account to the Ohio 529 plan.

    After considering every potential option available when opening a 529, you may even begin to wonder how others can help contribute to your child’s 529 savings plan. For example, after celebrating your child’s first birthday, you may look around to find toys scattered, some of which haven’t even been used. This brings up the question: Is there a better way to celebrate this milestone? The answer: Yes. Instead of receiving unnecessary toys from family members, consider asking for the gift of college by having loved ones contribute to your child’s 529 plan.
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    Family and friends want to give meaningful gifts for your child’s milestones. By asking them to consider gifts for college in lieu of gifts at baby showers, birthdays, holidays, graduations, and many other special occasions, your child’s future will only continue to benefit. The first, and easiest, option for CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan gift contributions is through Ugift. Ugift makes it easy for an account owner to set up a code which will authorize gift givers to donate directly to a 529 plan online without needing the actual account number. They can even check to make sure their electronic contribution is securely transferred from their bank account by visiting Ugift529.com. It's that easy. Once a gift giver has the code, they can continue to make one-time or recurring electronic gifts for college without fees. Plus, if the gift giver is an Ohio taxpayer, they can also deduct up to $2,000 in contributions per beneficiary, per year, from their state taxable income. Their gift contribution must be made payable directly to the account, not to the child.

    Have gift givers who may prefer paying by check? Simply encourage them to write a check payable to the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, rather than the beneficiary, and give them the 11-digit account number to add to the memo line. ​You can then mail it with an Additional Contribution Form to the listed address and it will be added to your CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account. Again, if the gift giver is a taxpayer in Ohio, they can deduct their own gift contributions from their state taxable income.

    Another option to consider? Having heart-to-heart conversations with your child’s grandparents. It has been shown that a large number of 529 plan gift givers are grandparents who place a high value on higher education. After you talk with them, they may wish to make a gift to your existing 529 plan or they may want to establish their own account for your child. As the account owner, the grandparents will oversee the account and determine when to make withdrawals to pay for your child’s higher education expenses. They also control transfers between accounts, which is especially flexible if there is a need to transfer surplus funds from one grandchild to another. Or they can transfer their 529 account funds into an account that you’ve already established as college approaches.

    Grandparents who are Ohio taxpayers can take the deduction from their state income tax for gift contributions to CollegeAdvantage accounts of up to $2,000 in contributions per beneficiary, per year. Make sure that your grandparents are aware that there are gift tax considerations that may come into play depending on the amount of the gift contributions. The current annual gift tax exclusion is up to $14,000 per person to each beneficiary, per year, but that amount is inclusive of all gifts to a beneficiary, not just gifts to a 529 account. Additionally, your child’s grandparents can use 529 plans as part of their estate-planning strategy. As this is a complicated area of tax law and strategies vary from person to person, please have them consult with a tax or financial advisor for information on this option.

    As the next future celebration approaches, when family and friends ask what they can give, encourage them to give the gift of college by contributing to your CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan.

  • Money Set Aside For Future Generations

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 23, 2016

    We started with CollegeAdvantage as soon as the program was open. Originally, we opened two accounts but as our family kept growing, we kept saving for their college expenses by adding new accounts. In total, we now have six 529 plan accounts with CollegeAdvantage for our six children.

    When we moved to California 11 years ago, we continued to save with CollegeAdvantage. So far, we have used our account to cover college expenses back in Ohio as well as California.

    Three of our children have graduated. Our daughter stayed in Ohio to attend the Ohio State University; one son went to University of California – Irvine; and another to University of California – Riverside. Our youngest daughter is going to Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston. Our 529 accounts helped quite a bit at OSU and covered about half of the expenses at California schools where colleges are costly.  Our 529 account is now being used to help fund our pharmacy bound daughter.

    We still have two more children to go through college; we are looking forward to using their accounts for their college costs.

    These 529 plans are my lifeline. This money came in handy. I do not think people realize how this is a forced savings that with the money being put away it is being used for our future generation.  I would definitely use this program again for my grandchildren.

     

    Tammy Cooper

    Irvine, Calif.

  • Direct 529 Plan Changes To Be Implemented Sept. 8-9

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 22, 2016

    College Advantage will be adjusting some of the investment options offered in the Direct 529 Plan per one of the investment manager’s, Vanguard, recommendations. These changes were approved by the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority (OTTA) Board and will be implemented as of Sept. 8-9, 2016. The following changes will be made for you automatically.

    The current Vanguard Prime Money Market Option will be closed. In its place, a new Vanguard Federal Money Market Option will be launched, and will be named Vanguard Money Market Option. This exchange will be performed to be in compliance with the new Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) rules. This investment option exchange is non-taxable and will not count toward your twice-per-calendar year limit on exchanges because it is initiated by CollegeAdvantage.

    Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund will replace the Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund in the Vanguard Income Portfolio; in the Advantage Age-Based Portfolio (AABP) for Age Band 6-9, 10-12, 13-16, and 17+; and Vanguard Conservative Age-Based Portfolio for Age Band 19+. The underlying fund changes do not result in an actual exchange for your CollegeAdvantage account. The replacement of the Vanguard Prime Money Market Option for the Vanguard Money Market Option is simply one of the investment options within portfolio.

    Additionally, the OTTA Board approved Vanguard’s recommended changes to its ready-made age-based and ready-made risk-based offerings. The changes include increasing allocations to a portion of the international component of its equity and bond allocations. All of the changes to the CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan Investment Options will occur automatically. This change will remove the home country bias in the Vanguard Ready-Made Risk Based and Vanguard Ready-Made Age-Based Portfolios. The affected portfolios are Vanguard Aggressive Growth Index Portfolio, Vanguard Growth Index Portfolio, Vanguard Moderate Growth Index Portfolio, Vanguard Conservative Growth Index Portfolio, and Vanguard Income Portfolio. Remember, these investment option exchanges are non-taxable and will not count toward your twice-per-calendar year limit on exchanges because they are initiated by CollegeAdvantage.

    A new Offering Statement detailing these adjustments will be available online on Sept. 8. Additionally, the new Offering Statement will also be mailed to all current CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan account owners during in September.

    If you have any additional questions after you have read the Offering Statement, please call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734) or visit us

  • What Are The Tax Advantages Of A 529?

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 19, 2016

    When thinking of your child’s future, you understand that a key to starting a successful career is a post-secondary education. Whether it’s a two-year, four-year, graduate, technical, or professional degree, you know it would be best to start saving now to decrease student debt later. As you research tips for how to save for college, you may keep coming across 529 plans and wonder, “What is a 529 plan?”

    The Ohio 529 plan was established by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code to encourage parents to save their children’s future college costs in a tax-advantaged manner. CollegeAdvantage is Ohio’s 529 college savings program. The tax benefits of opening a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account are:

    1. Tax-free earnings
    2. Tax-free withdrawals
    3. State of Ohio tax deduction (for residents of Ohio only)



    1) Tax-free earnings 


    Fact1

    All of the money you contribute to a CollegeAdvantage 529 plan will grow tax-free and you can withdraw all earnings tax-free, provided that the account is used forqualified higher education expenses. To see just how tax-free growth adds up with a 529 savings plan, use the tax benefit tool and immediately see the difference between a 529 plan account in comparison to a taxable account. Unlike a taxable account, a CollegeAdvantage 529 plan ensures that every bit of investment growth is yours to use, tax-free. CollegeAdvantage has additional aids to help you set or adjust your college savings goals. If you’re curious about how much you’ll need tosave or you want to double-check your risk tolerance, use these tools to gain better insights and to get questions answered. As you research, always remember that time is your best friend. Over time, every amount contributed, big or small, will help you reach your savings goal. 


    2) Tax-free withdrawals
      
    Fact2

    Not only does your CollegeAdvantage 529 plan grow tax-free, it also remains tax-free when the withdrawals are used for qualified higher education expenses. These expenses must be for eligible education institutions that have a Federal School Code through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The definition of a 529-qualified higher education expense is broad and includes many major costs, including: tuition, room and board costs during any academic period the beneficiary is enrolled at least half-time, computer equipment and related technology and services, mandatory fees, books, supplies, any equipment required for enrollment or attendance, and certain expenses for special-need students.

    Some of the costs that are not qualified as higher education expenses include: Transportation costs, insurance, fees and equipment which are not required for enrollment, parking tickets, library fines, and payment for student loans.

    To help create even more benefits to opening a college savings account, the U.S. Congress passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH Act) of 2015. Signed by the president, this law allowed the sole account beneficiary enrolled in college to use their 529 account toward computers, educational software, and related expenses. Entertainment software, including gaming systems, do not qualify.


    3) State of Ohio tax deduction 

    Fact3

    If you are an Ohio taxpayer, contributions to CollegeAdvantage may be deducted from your Ohio taxable income in any amount up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap.  Should you choose to contribute more than $2,000 in a calendar year, any amounts above $2,000 may be deducted in future years, in increments up to $2,000 per year, until all contributions have been deducted. If you have College Advantage 529 accounts for each of your children, you receive the deduction to your Ohio taxable income for contributions made to each beneficiary’s account. Non-account owners who are Ohio taxpayers qualify for this tax deduction when they give gifts for college directly to CollegeAdvantage accounts.

    A bottom line benefit of a 529 plan? It’s far cheaper to save money and earn interest in an account now than pay off students loans with accumulated interest later. With all the tax benefits offered with a 529 plan, your account can grow to reach your college savings goal. If you’ve made it this far and don’t have a CollegeAdvantage account, we have a tool to help you see how just how much it costs to wait to save for college. 

  • Buckeyes And CollegeAdvantage Are On The Same Team!

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 17, 2016

    You know you’re a Buckeye fan. No matter where you are, you always answer the siren call of “O-H!” with a resounding “I-O!”

    CollegeAdvantage is giving away football tickets for The Ohio State University to four lucky fans of both the Buckeyes and saving for college. One lucky fan will win a pair of season tickets. To enter this giveaway, visit us today on Facebook. You can enter once per day, per email address. But don’t wait. This giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. ET Aug. 28, 2016.

    One grand prize winner will receive a pair of season tickets (14 tickets total) for each 2016 Ohio State University home game. The second-place winner will collect two tickets to the big game against Michigan on Nov​. 26, as well as two tickets to both the Tulsa and Indiana games. The third-place winner will receive two tickets to the Nebraska and Rutgers games. Finally, the fourth-place winner will receive two tickets to the Northwestern and Bowling Green games.

    You can see the complete contest rules here and enter here.

    Sign up for the giveaway today. And if you’re a winner, think of it as practice for when your child attends college and you get to enjoy those crisp, fall Saturday afternoons together!

  • Start The New School Year With A $529 College Savings Award!

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 16, 2016

    September is College Savings Month and CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, is excited to celebrate it with you!

    So excited, in fact, that we are giving away ten (!) $529 CollegeAdvantage 529 Direct Plan College Savings Awards.  And the good news is, you don’t have to wait till College Savings Month to enter! You can sign up here starting today through 11:59 p.m. ET Sept. 30, 2016. And, you can enter once per day, per email address. See complete contest rules here.

    Now , these awards are to encourage you to save now for future college costs. The earlier you start saving, the longer you get to enjoy the power of compound interest to grow your account balance. Additionally, a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan offers many tax advantages, including tax-free growth, tax-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses, and a deduction from your state taxable income for Ohio residents. And, if “back to school” for your student means back to college, you could even use the award this school year (if you’re a winner).

    Have a child that’s starting kindergarten, but you haven’t started a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan yet? Now is a great time to get started. Almost anyone can open an account and anyone can contribute — whether parents, grandparents, family members, or friends — directly to a CollegeAdvantage account. Enrollment in CollegeAdvantage is easy. Even if your children are older, it’s never too late to save what you can while also taking advantage of the great tax benefits. 

    Enter to win $529 today, and start your college savings with CollegeAdvantage this new school year! 

  • Education Is Important For Children’s Future

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 15, 2016

    We were among the first families to join the OTTA when it was formed 26 years ago. As young parents, first starting out, we knew that education was important for our children’s future.  We are both career special education teachers in Ohio public schools, and we knew that the only way to afford college would be step by step, putting away as much as we could every paycheck. We also had support from grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members on holidays and birthdays.

    Well, we are proud to say that our seven children have grown with a love of learning. We still have two high schoolers at home, and their OTTA accounts are waiting for them upon graduation. The next older son is a college senior. Our youngest daughter graduated from Ohio Dominican University two years ago and is teaching a special education classroom herself. Our middle daughter used her OTTA account for her undergraduate work, and she is currently a children’s librarian while she is completing her Master’s in Library Science at Kent State. Our oldest son has completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and is teaching in Columbus while he completes his TESOL certificate at Ohio State. Finally, our oldest daughter graduated from both the University of Toledo and Ohio State and is teaching elementary art in the Columbus area.

    We are very grateful that a program like OTTA was available to help us make all of these wonderful things happen. When our first grandchild arrived last year, we opened an OTTA account in his name.

     

    Michael and Trisha Prunty

    Fremont, Ohio

  • 3 Ways To Make 529 Payments To A College

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 12, 2016

    NOTE: This is the process for CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan accounts only. The process is different for Guaranteed Plan accounts. Here’s guidance for withdrawals from the Guaranteed Plan.

    CollegeAdvantage wants your 529 plan withdrawal and subsequent payment for qualified higher education expenses to be simple and quick. By initiating these transactions online, you are taking advantage of the fastest and most accurate method; however, there are other procedures you can also follow. Keep an eye on your payment timeline as you start the withdrawal process. It’s better to prepare now than to be surprised by time constraints after making the request. This guide can serve as a useful reference now and in the future.


    Online

    Online withdrawal requests followed by online tuition payments to the school are the fastest way to move money from your CollegeAdvantage 529 account to a college or university. Here’s how to do it all online:

    1. Add your bank’s information now. Before you can make a withdrawal, you must have your bank account information on file for 15 business days. For security purposes, no withdrawals will be processed until your bank information has been on file with your CollegeAdvantage account(s) for at least 15 business days. This is a one-time waiting period unless you change your banking information. To add your current bank account details to each of your CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan accounts, log in to your account, and use the “Asset Management” menu to add your bank information in the “Manage Banks” section.
    2. Request your withdrawal be paid electronically to your bank account. The fastest delivery method that CollegeAdvantage offers is to have your 529 withdrawal sent electronically to your bank account. Withdrawals requested before 4 p.m. ET on business days will be processed and approved in two business days. It may take additional time for your bank to show the 529 withdrawal as being deposited. From the date of your request, you can expect the funds to be received by your bank within three to five business days.
    3. Pay your tuition online from your bank account. Once the 529 funds have been deposited to your bank account, use your college’s online portal to pay your higher-education expenses from the school from your bank account. Most schools have their own electronic tuition payment process as well as other traditional methods. Check your school’s bursar office for details. Processing times will vary by school; you should ask what it is then start the withdrawal process early to avoid late fees.


    Paper Check Delivery to the School

    CollegeAdvantage can send the payment directly to the school, but be aware that we only send paper checks by U.S. mail. Depending on the U.S. Postal Service’s delivery schedule as well as the school’s paper check processing procedures, this may cause delays in the payment. If you still choose the paper check delivery, you must do the following:

    1. Provide CollegeAdvantage with the correct school address where the check should be sent.
    2. Provide your student’s school ID number with the withdrawal request so the school knows to whom to credit the payment.
    3. Allow at least an additional 10 business days after the date of your online withdrawal request for the check to arrive at the school. It will also take the school additional time to apply the payment to your student’s expenses.


    Paper Withdrawal Request Form

    For those who prefer to use a paper form, CollegeAdvantage offers a Withdrawal Request Form. Please be aware that this is potentially the slowest withdrawal method. This form, as well as other account maintenance forms, can be found here.

    In the interest of time and prompt payment, we do encourage you to make your withdrawal request online, rather than download the form. The form is available as a fillable PDF, which we recommend taking advantage of if you plan to use it.

    You may also print the form and clearly write on it. The completed paper form must be signed then mailed to the address provided on it.

    You may have the funds sent to you as the Account Owner, or to the Beneficiary, either by mailed paper check, or by Automated Clearing House (ACH) which electronically deposited the 529 withdrawal in you or the Beneficiary’s bank account. Once you receive the funds, you will have to decide how to pay the school.

    If you wish to have the payment sent directly to the school, review the “Paper Check Delivery to the School” information above then provide the required information in section 3 C of the Withdrawal Request Form.

    The most important step is to prepare now for upcoming 529 withdrawals. Make sure your bank information is correct on your CollegeAdvantage accounts and that you know how much time the school needs to process your payment. These simple steps will expedite the withdrawal so you can pay the school expenses on time.

  • Guaranteed Plan Withdrawals For Tuition Payments

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 11, 2016

    Summer days are drifting away. And with school days drawing near, you need to prepare for your Guaranteed 529 Plan withdrawals to cover your child’s qualified higher education expenses. CollegeAdvantage recommends that you plan ahead so that you know exactly how you will process your withdrawal request and pay your school’s tuition bill. It’s better to prepare now than be caught off-guard by tuition payment deadlines.

    Effective Aug. 11, 2016, the payout rates for the CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed 529 Savings Plan are*:

    Tuition Unit: $102.35

    Tuition Credit: $​117.70

    With your Guaranteed Plan account, there are several ways to request a withdrawal to pay for expenses. You can request a withdrawal online; there are two online methods for making a withdrawal for tuition and other qualifies expenses. Additionally, you can mail in a paper withdrawal form to start the process. Here are some helpful tips for each process.

    1) Request a withdrawal is paid directly to your school.

    Using the online account management system, you can request that CollegeAdvantage pay your withdrawal directly to the school. When using this method, keep in mind that CollegeAdvantage pays schools by sending a paper check through the U.S. Post Service. Depending on their delivery schedule as well as the school’s paper-check processing procedures, this may cause delays in the payment. CollegeAdvantage is not responsible for any late fees charged by the school, so please plan ahead!

    If you still choose the paper check delivery directly to the school, you must do the following:

    • Provide CollegeAdvantage with the correct eligible educational institution’s address where the check should be sent.
    • Provide your beneficiary’s name and school ID number on the withdrawal request so the school knows to whom to credit the payment.
    • Allow at least an additional 10 business days after the date of your online withdrawal request for the check to arrive at the school. Remember, the school will also need additional time to process the payment to your student’s expenses so be aware of any time constraints as you start the withdrawal process.


    2) Request a withdrawal is paid directly to your bank account.

    The fastest way to pay tuition is to make your online withdrawal payable directly to your bank account. Then, use the funds from your bank account to pay your school using the school’s preferred electronic method.

    Here are some other instructions you should know:

    Log in to your CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed Plan account and click on Withdraw Funds.

    • Withdrawals requested online before 4 p.m. ET on business days will be processed by CollegeAdvantage overnight. It may take additional time for your bank to show the 529 withdrawal as being deposited. Typically, this is between 3-5 business days from your request date.

    • Once you receive your electronic withdrawal deposited to your bank account, use your college’s online payment system to pay your tuition from your bank account. Most schools have their own electronic tuition payment process, as well as other forms of acceptable payment. Payment processing times will vary according to the school. Confirm the processing details with your school’s bursar or financial office. You should ask what the school’s time frame is so to promptly begin the withdrawal procedure to avoid any penalties. Again, CollegeAdvantage is not responsible for any late fees charged by the school, so please plan ahead!

    3) Request a withdrawal by mail.

    You can also complete your withdrawal, whether payable to you, the beneficiary or the school, via a Withdrawal Request Form. You can fill the form out on screen then print it. This form, as well as all other forms for the CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed 529 Savings Plan, can be downloaded here.

    Please keep in mind that mail delivery — to CollegeAdvantage, then to bank accounts and/or to the school — will increase the processing times outlined above. Remember, CollegeAdvantage is not responsible for any late fees charged by the school, so please plan ahead.

    Please note: Some Guaranteed Plan withdrawals cannot be processed online, and may require additional steps, which are listed on the Withdrawal Request Form. If you need additional help, please contact CollegeAdvantage’s Customer Service Department at 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734), Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) or email CustomerService@CollegeAdvantage.com.

     

    *Please note that these numbers are subject to change once each of the Four-Year State Universities listed in ORC Section 3345.011, (which include: University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, Central State University, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Miami University, Ohio University, Ohio State University, Shawnee State University, University of Toledo, Wright State University, and Youngstown State University) have released their annual undergraduate tuition rates. We will publish the update rates as soon as we have them.

  • New Guaranteed Plan WAT Rate Announced

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 11, 2016

    The Weighted Average Tuition (WAT) calculations for the CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed 529 Savings Plan have been released.

    After these calculations, effective Aug. 11, 2016, the payout rates for the CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed 529 Savings Plan will be:

    Tuition Unit: $102.35

    Tuition Credit: $​117.70

    As you continue to work toward your college savings goals, you should consider the age of your child, your savings time span before college, risk tolerance, investment goals, and tuition cost projections. Depending on your goals, you always have the option to rollover funds from your CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed Plan account to any 529 plan, including the CollegeAdvantage Direct or Advisor Plan at any time, without incurring tax consequences and a penalty. To do so, complete the Guaranteed Plan Withdrawal form.

    * The Four-Year State Universities, listed in the Ohio Revised Code Section 3345.011, includes University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, Central State University, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Miami University, Ohio University, Ohio State University, Shawnee State University, University of Toledo, Wright State University, and Youngstown State University.

    Withdrawal values are calculated according to Ohio Administrative Code and may change at any time and without notice.

    The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority does not provide investment advice. The information contained herein is informational only and should not be relied upon exclusively to make your investment decisions. Investment options should be selected based on your investment goals, risk tolerance, and savings time horizon.

    Please note: The earnings portion of non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to taxes and a possible 10% federal tax penalty. If you are considering taking a non-qualified withdrawal, please consult your professional tax advisor

     

  • How To Avoid Mistakes With Your 529 Withdrawal

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 10, 2016

    NOTE: This is information for CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan accounts only. The process is different for Guaranteed Plan accounts. Here’s guidance for withdrawals from the Guaranteed Plan.

    You’re in a rush, trying to get through today’s to-do list when you look at the last item –paying your child’s college tuition bill. As you start your Direct 529 Plan withdrawal request, CollegeAdvantage has some pointers on how to avoid mistakes that may cost you in the long run.

    1) To start, create a payment timeline to follow before completing the withdrawal request form. It’s better to prepare this timetable now than to accrue late fees at the end of the process. Two time constraints that should be included in this schedule are:

    • The time it will take for the 529 Plan withdrawal to be deposited into your bank account. If you make your 529 withdrawal request online, then you can expect funds to be received by your bank within three to five business days after the date of the request. However, if you choose to use a paper withdrawal request form, it is potentially the slowest withdrawal method and you will need to plan accordingly to make sure your payment arrives on time.
    • The time it will take for the school to receive then process your funds. Most schools have an electronic payment option as well as traditional procedures. Check with your school’s bursar office for details as payment processing times will vary. You will want to know how long this stage will take so you can start the withdrawal early to prevent penalties. Additionally, electing to pay your bill electronically will be the fastest method of remittance. (Reminder: If you elect to have the funds sent directly to the school from your CollegeAdvantage account, these are only sent as checks.)

    2) Next, you will want to check that your banking information on your CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan is correct and up to date. For security purposes, this information must be on file with your CollegeAdvantage account(s) for at least 15 business days before you can make a request. No withdrawals will be processed during this time period. Log in to your 529 account and use the “Asset Management” menu to verify, or add, your bank account information in the “Manage Banks” section. If you don’t review this information before the withdrawal request, you may be adding unnecessary delays to receiving your funds.

    3) The simplest and quickest method to request a withdrawal of your 529 funds is by doing it online.  It’s also the most accurate: by entering the information in the online withdrawal process, you minimize the chances of any errors being entered — unless you mistype —and you won’t be able to submit the form until it’s fully completed. Paper withdrawal forms run the risk of illegibility or other errors, slowing the withdrawal process down until the information can be verified. Also, the online withdrawal process expedites the deposit of the withdrawal to either your bank account or directly to the eligible education institution.

    4) Your withdrawal must be for 529-qualified higher education expenses. These eligible expenses include: tuition, mandatory fees, computer equipment and related technology and services, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance; room and board costs during any academic period the beneficiary is enrolled at least half-time; and certain expenses for a special-needs student. As such, these withdrawals are not subject to federal or state income taxes.

    Avoid the mistake of withdrawing funds to cover any costs other than these qualified higher education expenses; it will be considered a non-qualified withdrawal. Some examples are transportations costs, insurance, fees and equipment that are not required for enrollment, parking tickets, library fines, and payment for student loans. As a non-qualified withdrawal, a 10% federal tax penalty will be imposed on the earnings portion of the withdrawal. You will also owe federal and state income taxes on the earnings.

    5) If your child earns a scholarship, you can withdraw up to the same dollar amount as the scholarship from the 529 plan. This will be a non-qualified withdrawal but only the earnings portion will be subject to federal and state income taxes. Normally, there would be an additional 10% federal tax penalty on the earnings; however, since this withdrawal is due to a scholarship, the tax penalty will not be imposed. However, if you mistakenly make a withdrawal over the dollar amount of the scholarship, the overage will have the 10% federal tax penalty as well as federal and state income taxes levied on the earnings portion.

    If your student has other qualified expenses that the scholarship doesn’t cover, you can instead use your account to cover these qualified expenses. As with any other qualified withdrawal, this type of withdrawal would not be subject to federal or state income taxes, or the 10% penalty.

    These are just a few suggestions on what missteps to avoid with 529 plan withdrawals. If you have any questions during the process, please visit our website or call CollegeAdvantage Customer Service at 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734). 

  • College Degrees Without The Burden Of Loans

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 08, 2016

    We started College Advantage accounts for each of our three daughters before they began school and contributed periodically. My parents started accounts for each of their six grandchildren as well that provided a grandparent “scholarship” to supplement what we had. With both, plus the additional balances we paid, we were able to bless each daughter with a college degree without the burden of loans to pay off as they began their careers. They are now all teachers.

    Our oldest began at Bowling Green, then transferred to Kent where she graduated with honors in 2007 and now is a math department chairperson teaching high-school math in the Baltimore, Md., area. The middle daughter spent her entire time at Ashland University and graduated in 2011 as one of two valedictorians of her class. She now teaches elementary special education in Portage County. Our youngest daughter began at Marietta then transferred to Ashland where she graduated with honors in 2013 in middle-school education. She currently teaches in Cleveland. We are proud of each of them and what they have done with their education. My parents also helped support my niece’s and nephews’ schooling in business, physical therapy and engineering and would be so proud to see what their grandchildren have accomplished.

    Our next chapter with CollegeAdvantage will begin soon as we have set up an account for our first grandchild. We want to offer her, and future grandchildren, the same college support her great grandparents provided for her mother, aunts and cousins. I don’t think anyone knows where the costs of college will go for sure.,

    Congratulations on helping families pay for college educations for over 25 years!

    Terri Bissel

    Twinsburg, Ohio

  • 529s Not Just For Four-Year Programs

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 05, 2016

    Not everyone is a traditional college student, seeking a four-year degree. There are great career opportunities on alternative collegiate paths. Can you still use a 529 plan if you choose another type of post-secondary education? Yes!

    529 plans are created to be used at any federally accredited educational institutions – whether for a two-year, four-year, graduate or professional degree, or any other post-secondary credential. Basically, you can use your account almost anywhere you’re comfortable sending both your student and your money.  If your school has a Federal School Code on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA, then withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses at that school will be 529-qualified withdrawals. Qualified withdrawals are not taxed.

    So what are some of these alternative collegiate pathways?

    Community colleges can be an excellent place to continue your education after high school. Usually  lower in cost than a four-year program, you can take required core classes that, in most cases, will transfer to other schools or explore different courses while searching for your dream profession. You can work toward your associate degree or use the community college as a stepping stone to a traditional four-year university. Either way, your 529 plan can cover qualified high education expenses.

    Prefer to express yourself creatively? Your 529 plans can help cover qualified costs at eligible institutions that are hyper-focused on the arts or music. Considering a career in religion? You can use your 529 plan to cover expenses at eligible universities. If you want to study abroad, your 529 plan ​may potentially cover education costs overseas. You will need to check FAFSA and toggle to “Foreign Country” to see which universities have a Federal School Code.

    Vocational or trade schools can provide you a great education in specialized skills. Because of these schools’ close connections to professional trades, you may graduate with a full-time, well-paying job already lined up. The schools’ areas of expertise can range from broadcasting, cosmetology, culinary arts, diagnostic imaging, graphic design, information technology, massage therapy, mortuary science, nursing, restaurant management, truck driving, to welding, to name a few. Your 529 plan may be applied here, too.

    Most graduate schools — whether business, law, medical, or other studies — may also be eligible institutions.

    Your CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan can be used at many different education institutions, not just a traditional four-year program. And there are thousands of them across the country. Wherever you would like to continue your post-secondary schooling, your 529 plan can be there to help cover qualified expenses. Just check for the eligibility of the school and be sure to use your 529 plan funds for qualified expenses. If you haven’t opened an account yet, visit here to learn more.

  • Scholarship? Here’s How To Still Use Your 529!

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 03, 2016

    Congratulations! Your child worked hard through all the challenges of high school and has earned a scholarship to their dream school. And congratulations! You worked hard to save money into their 529 plan to pay for college. So now what do you do?

    First, if the scholarship doesn’t cover all the expenses, your 529 account is there to cover the difference. Tuition, room and board, mandatory fees, books, supplies, computers and related equipment and services are considered 529-qualified higher education expenses. As such, these withdrawals are not subject to federal or state income taxes.

    Second, if you are fortunate and the scholarship covers all the higher-education expenses, you can hold onto your 529 plan for your child’s continuing education such as graduate, law, or medical school.

    Third, you can transfer the 529 plan funds to another beneficiary. The new recipient must be a family member to the original beneficiary — including siblings, stepsiblings, stepparents, cousins, grandparents, nieces and nephews — to avoid tax penalties. You could hold onto the account for your grandchildren’s future college costs since there are no time limits for using 529 plans. You can even roll over the account to yourself to fund your own continuing education!

    Fourth, you have the option of withdrawing up to the same dollar amount as the scholarship from the 529 plan. This will be considered a non-qualified withdrawal and only the earnings portion will be subject to taxation. As your account contributions are made from after-tax dollars, the contribution portion of the withdrawal will not be taxed. However, the earnings portion of the withdrawal will be subject to federal and state income taxes. Normally, there would be an additional 10% federal tax penalty on the earnings but there are three waivers for this penalty: if the student becomes disabled or dies; if the student attends a U.S. military academy; or if the student receives a scholarship. In this circumstance, since the withdrawal is for a beneficiary earning a scholarship, this federal tax penalty is not imposed.

    Fifth, you can withdraw all the funds from the 529 plan account. This will be considered a non-qualified withdrawal. Like a 401(k) or a traditional IRA retirement account, there is a penalty assessed if money drawn from the account is used for something other than its intended purpose. So, an additional 10% federal tax penalty will be imposed on the earnings portion of the withdrawal. You will also owe federal and state income taxes on the earnings. You can choose to withdraw the funds and designate someone else - like your recent college graduate - to be the recipient of this withdrawal.

    So yes, your 529 plan is still a vital component of your college-saving strategy even if your child does earn a scholarship. Very few scholarships cover 100% of the costs, so a 529 plan is perfect for filling any gaps. If you haven’t opened an account yet, visit here to learn more. To watch a video about this topic by industry expert, Joe Hurley, founder of savingforcollege.com, go here

  • Children Started Work World Debt Free

    by Amy Lyle | Aug 01, 2016

    ​I had read about the College Advantage Plan prior to the birth of my children. One of my goals for my children was that if they chose to go to college, then I wanted to start them in the work world debt free.

    Practically the day they were born, I entered them in the program. I personally value higher education as it is one very important ticket to success in adult life.

    Any chance I got to put money in their accounts, I did - whether it was $25 or $1,000 or $3,000. I work in a commission-based profession and when I had a chance, I would I would sock it into their accounts.

    CollegeAdvantage is best decision I ever made for my children.

    My son, Tyler, graduated from The Ohio State University with a major in zoology. About a year from graduation, he called one day and said “Dad, I think I want to go to law school.” I had no idea where that came from but I was all for it. I began socking more into his account. He recently graduated with a law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Fla., and is working in Miami.

    My daughter, Nicolette, graduated from Otterbein University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is currently working at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. She loves it.

    I am very proud of my children and am sure that they would not be in the position they are had it not been for the CollegeAdvantage Program. They fully understand how fortunate they are to start debt free.

    What is more important they have a clear picture of the value of a college and hopefully will enroll their children in the plan upon their birth.

     

    John A. Vanaman

    Coshocton, Ohio

  • What Qualified Costs Do 529 Plans Cover?

    by Amy Lyle | Jul 28, 2016

    529 plans are a great, tax-advantaged way to save for your child’s future college costs.

    One of the major benefits of a 529 plan is that when you withdrawal funds for a qualified higher education expense, the money will not be taxed at the federal or state level. So what exactly are 529-qualified higher education expenses? They are the costs involved with attending a federally accredited educational institute to earn a two-year, four-year, graduate or professional degree.

    The breadth of what is considered a 529-qualified higher education expense is broad. Eligible expenses include tuition, mandatory fees, computer equipment and related technology and services, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance; room and board costs or off campus housing during any academic period the beneficiary is enrolled at least half-time; and certain expenses for a special-needs student.

    What makes an expense qualify? The key is if it is related to enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institute. For example, tuition is a mandatory expense; books, fees, supplies that are required for classes are necessary cost; and room and board if your beneficiary is living on or off campus is a qualified cost. What are some costs that aren’t qualified higher education expenses? Transportations costs, insurance, fees and equipment which are not required for enrollment, parking tickets, library fines, and payment for student loans.

    Thanks to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH Act) of 2015, computers, software, related equipment and internet access expenses, used by the account beneficiary while enrolled in college, are all now considered qualified higher education expenses. Related equipment and software must for educational purposes, not for entertainment. That means gaming systems do not qualify.

    As is the case with all college savings 529s, the burden of proof for tax purposes for qualified expenses and withdrawals is on the Account Owner. Pleas retain all documentation of all 529-qualifed expenses.

    If you are wondering how to make a 529 withdrawal to pay tuition or room and board, please read this article. This blog offers some tips on how to be reimbursed from your 529 account for other qualified higher education expenses. If you want to avoid making mistakes on your withdrawal, this blog offers some suggestions.

  • Payroll Deduction Made Savings Manageable

    by User Not Found | Jul 25, 2016

    Can't believe it's been over 25 years since we made the best decision for our family. We were a very busy young family with four children, very close together in ages.  In 1990, my husband, Jack, was a high school teacher and I was a registered nurse. The kids would have been 6, 8, 8, and 10 (yes, twins in the middle). We knew the potential of having three kids in college for four years in a row was a very overwhelming possibility. We so hoped for that possibility to come to fruition as we knew the importance of an education . . . but at the same time we knew how much that would cost. That, in and of itself, made us think of every penny we spent.

    Jack and I came from very different backgrounds.  He paid for his own college education, even withdrawing for a period of time to serve our country via the National Guard.  I, on the other hand, had college paid for by my parents.

    Budgeting for the education of our four children needed to be a priority. We wanted to invest in their future education in a way that wasn't so overwhelming.  Jack remembered the chunks of money he needed to pay his college tuition bill. I remembered my Dad writing the checks to cover mine. We knew college for our kids would have to be creatively financed by parents AND kids. We both agreed that CollegeAdvantage was the best way for us as parents to save by utilizing payroll deductions. With payroll deduction, we could save in reasonable amounts that would add up over time.  As our salary increased, that money was redirected into our CollegeAdvantage savings accounts.

    We knew that the kids would have to contribute, too. So, we encouraged a good work ethic, not only saving money for college but the value of earning good grades with the hopes of scholarships, grants, and other opportunities for higher education. All four children utilized their personal savings, scholarships or grants, and CollegeAdvantage to pay for their higher education, thus investing in their own future.

    Our children are now adults of whom we are very proud.  We have wonderful sons and daughter-in-laws, and ​four grandchildren. We continue the importance of saving for a higher education by contributing to our grandchildren's college funds.

    Thank you for this opportunity to help me reflect on my blessings in life and how Jack and I are honored to be their parents and grandparents.

    Linda Jacquemin

    Hamilton, Ohio

    Original published April 17, 2015. Information has been updated.
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