Use Your 529 To Study Abroad
We knew that it was important to start saving for our sons’ college educations almost from the time they were born. When the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority CollegeAdvantage savings program began, and our sons were quite young, we realized that it offered a very effective way to do this. Our sons attended public school as we knew we could not afford to pay both for private school and for college. So we moved to the best public school district we could afford when they were in elementary school.
The OTTA program allowed us to purchase investments that grew in value over time. Over the years, we regularly invested small inheritances from our grandparents and savings we managed to accrue toward our sons’ future higher education. Both our sons were aware that we would pay for their tuition, room and board, but that their books and other living expenses were their responsibility. So they had their own bank accounts to save for college as well. Our ultimate goal was that both our sons would earn a bachelor’s degree in four years and graduate debt-free, which we achieved.
Our older son went to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he received a B.A. degree in political science and economics.* It took us a while to figure out how to pay for his education using U.S. dollars from OTTA and how much they would buy in Canadian tuition. The currency exchange rate back in the early 2000s was quite favorable, so it was very cost-effective for us even though McGill is a private school. He has lived abroad since he began attending McGill and now teaches English as a second language to middle-school students in Seoul, South Korea. He is also a self-taught computer video artist and is enrolled in a University of Southern California online master’s degree program in teaching English to speakers of other languages.
Our younger son graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. degree in hospitality management and a minor in business, and earned an M.B.A. from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is the manager at a Chicago senior center/café that serves about 100 people a day and also offers lifelong learning and social programs, under the auspices of a local non-profit organization.
Our advice to other families would simply be to start saving when your children are very young and make it a habit to add to your savings on a regular basis as they grow up always keeping the goal of a college education uppermost in one’s mind.
Miriam and Daniel Rose
* If you want to study abroad, you will need to check the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA to see which universities have a Federal School Code in order to use your 529 plan.
Posted on May 03, 2016