Spring has finally sprung for 2023, even if it doesn’t always seem that way with our Ohio weather.
As you shake off the winter blahs, your thoughts may turn to spring cleaning. When you start your improvement projects in and around your house, be sure to take some time to review your children’s accounts with Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage. Some college savings spring cleaning you can do in 2023 can include updating your two-factor authentication, saving strategies, investment options, and going green to keep more clutter from your home.
Ohio 529 Security tips
One critical step to take is protecting your information on the Internet. Several years ago, Ohio’s 529 Plan took steps to add extra cybersecurity to your account by implementing two-factor authentication. This measure will protect your valuable college savings account information from phishing attacks and identity theft. If it’s been a while since you’ve logged into your CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account, please make sure that your phone number is up-to-date. Your phone number is necessary to set up two-factor authentication, as you will receive either a SMS text to receive your PIN (Personal Identification Number) or an automated outbound call.
If your phone number is current, then you can just log into your account to initiate the two-factor authentication process.
If not, please complete the Account Information Change Form and send this to the address within the document so we can update your information.
Be sure to create a strong and complex password that contains at least eight characters, including lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters, like punctuation marks and symbols. Additionally, you should clear the cache and cookies on your computer, mobile, or handheld device regularly.
Keep your house clean by going paperless
As you are clearing out papers in your home, set yourself up for future success by signing up for e-notification with Ohio’s 529 Plan.
E-notification is the fastest and most efficient way to receive communications from Ohio’s 529 Plan. These e-communications include your quarterly statements, offering statements updates, transactions and profile confirmations, and tax forms.
To switch to e-notification for Ohio 529 Plan communications, first log in to your account. To change your delivery preferences, go to your Profile and Documents section, then to Delivery Preference. Once there, select Edit Delivery Preferences and choose email.
Another way to go green – by making online withdrawals. As the U.S. Postal Service may still experience delays in the delivery of materials, this could affect your payments for your child’s qualified higher education expenses when you opt to mail the tax-free 529 withdrawal.
The fastest method to pay a higher education institution is to make an online withdrawal request online. By doing so, you can have that money deposited directly into your bank account and then pay the school directly through the school’s online payment portal or you can write the check to cover your child’s qualified college costs. Please keep in mind the bank must be on file with CollegeAdvantage for at least 15 days before this is an available option.
Rethink your refund
Spring is also tax season. And for 2023, the tax filing deadline is April 17. Did you know that saving your tax refunds in Ohio's tax-free 529 Plan could be part of your entire higher education savings plan? The average 2021 federal tax refund for Ohioans was $2,059. Watch this video to see how! Check out this and other saving scenarios by adding these numbers to our College Savings Estimator. Please note that this is an example for illustrative purposes only. For additional advice, consult with your legal, financial, tax, or other advisor.
If you'd like to see other simple savings solutions, Ohio's 529 Plan has additional ideas to share.
More than one child?
If you opened a college savings plan when your first child was born but haven’t yet for your other bundles of joy, consider opening a 529 plan for each of them. Individual 529 accounts can maximize the tax benefits of saving for college in a 529 plan. These advantages include tax-free contributions and earnings, which means all investment is growth is yours to use, and tax-free withdrawals when used to pay qualified higher education expenses.
Additionally, Ohio residents can deduct their Ohio’s 529 Plan contributions from their Ohio taxable income, up to $4,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. If you are an Ohioan with three Ohio 529 plans for your three children, you can maximize this tax benefit up to $12,000 per year. Because of the unlimited carry forward for the state income tax deduction, $4,000 per year is not a contribution cap. If you have one 529 account and you’ve contributed $12,000, you will subtract $4,000 per year, per beneficiary, from your Ohio taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.
529 saving strategies
Has it been a while since you’ve opened your CollegeAdvantage account? It might be time to check out these age-based savings strategies, especially if you’re not in a ready-made target enrollment portfolio. With a ready-made target enrollment investment option, the equity in a portfolio will gradually decrease as your child grows older; this reduces risk in the portfolio the closer the time comes to use the account to cover higher education costs.
Foe example, if you still have a baby or toddler, you’ve done a great job by already starting to save for their future higher education. When loved ones ask what gifts you’d like for your child, ask for the gift of higher education and share how they can add to your child’s account through Ugift.
Tools and calculators
While you’re reviewing your Ohio 529, you can check to see if you’re on track with your college savings goals with our tools and calculators. With the College Savings Estimator, you can receive an estimated monthly savings amount needed to reach your savings objectives. Change the planned contribution amount in this tool to see how setting aside a little more money can really add up. The Cost of Delaying Saving Tool can ascertain how much more you may need to save to reach your college savings goals if you don’t start soon. The Tax Benefit Tool can shows you the long-term advantages of tax-free growth in a 529 plan when compared to a taxable savings account.
READYSAVE 529 app
You can also manage your college savings from your cell phone! For quick and simple to access your college savings account, Ohio's 529 Plan now offers the READYSAVE 529 app. Our new savings app, developed in conjunction with our recordkeeping partner, Ascensus, makes it easy for you to access your account information, track account growth, and make both one-time and recurring contributions from the bank account on file from your cell phone! And with the READYSAVE529 app, you can send an invitation to your family and friends to contribute to your child’s higher education via Ugift.
You can download the READYSAVE 529 app now from the Apple and Google Play app stores. Once you install the app, select Ohio’s 529 Plan from the list and log in with the same username and password you use to access your account online.
Visit Ohio’s 529 Plan online to start saving today for your child’s future education. An investment in a 529 plan is an investment in your child where every dollar saved today is a dollar that doesn’t have to be borrowed later. A 529 account can be used for whatever school comes after high school. Learn, plan, and start with as little as $25 with Ohio’s 529 Plan today at CollegeAdvantage.This article was originally posted in April 2019 and has been updated to reflect new information for 2023