Child and father testing and building a robot

Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, isn’t just for four-year colleges and universities. We can help you save for your children’s education after high school, including career training. So, if your child would rather learn a trade or vocation, an Ohio 529 account can pay for the qualified costs.

More students are taking an interest in career training after high school. Trade, technical, and vocational schools, community colleges, apprenticeships, and certificate programs are great gateways to a full-time career. Because of these schools’ close connections to professional trades, students opting for career training may graduate with a full-time, well-paying job already lined up.

If you have been saving in Ohio’s 529 Plan for your child or grandchild, then you can use your 529 account can be used for whatever comes after high school, which includes everything listed above, as well as graduate school, law school, and medical school. So, if your child chooses to further their education by attending a trade school or certificate program, you can use your 529 account to pay for qualified costs there. And your 529 plan withdrawals are tax-free when used for qualified higher education expenses.


And what are those costs? For apprenticeships, you can use a tax-free 529 withdrawal for fees, textbooks, supplies, and equipment such as required trade tools. The apprenticeship program must be registered with the Secretary of Labor’s National Apprenticeships Act to use a 529 plan withdrawal. Interested parties can check the U.S. Labor Department’s  search tool to confirm that a program is eligible.

Trade schools

In Ohio, there is a robust network of trade schools, under the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), known as Ohio Technical Centers (OTCs). According to the ODHE website, “OTCs provide post-secondary career and technical education (CTE) through 49 career centers across Ohio. These institutions offer programming in the skill trades (i.e., HVAC, phlebotomy, police training, EMT, etc.) that prepare learners for certificates, industry-recognized certifications, and state licensures. Many of the OTCs are positioned to respond quickly to the needs of business and industry by providing customize trainings and business consultation services to companies and organization to assist with meeting Ohio’s workforce goals.” 

For trade, technical, and vocational schools, the qualified higher education expenses include:

  • tuition.
  • room and board during any academic period in which the 529 beneficiary is enrolled for at least half of the full-time academic workload according to the eligible education institution. Room and board costs can also include rent for off-campus residency —including apartment, homes, and Greek fraternities and sororities houses — and groceries (non-taxable items only), provided these costs are equal or less than the same room and board allowances from the accredited education institution.
  • mandatory fees.
  • computer equipment and related technology as well as internet services.
  • books, supplies and equipment related to enrollment and class schedule and
  • certain expenses for a special-needs student.

Certificate programs

According to ODHE, “Certificate programs are a form of postsecondary education that are affordable and usually require full-time, six-month to one-year of required courses or their part-time equivalent. Certificates are granted by colleges and adult career centers after completion of study for specific occupations. According to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, workers with certificates earn 20 percent more on average than workers with only a high school diploma, and certificates make workers more employable. Furthermore, certificates have become steppingstones to college degrees.” ODHE lists 23 schools where you can earn a certificate to boost your employability.

Like trade and vocational schools, your Ohio 529 account can pay for your tuition; mandatory fees; computer equipment and related technology as well as internet service; books, supplies and equipment related to enrollment and class schedule; and certain expenses for a special-needs student.

Community colleges

Community colleges can also be an excellent choice to continue an education after high school. Usually lower in cost than a four-year program, your child can take required core classes that, in many cases, will transfer to other schools, or explore different courses in their search for their dream profession. Your student can first earn an associate degree or use the community college then transition to a traditional four-year university. Either way, a 529 withdrawal can cover the same qualified high education expenses required to attend these schools, just like trade and vocational schools.

Use Ohio 529 nationwide

While you may have saved in Ohio’s 529 Plan, you can use your funds at both Ohio schools and schools nationwide. 529 plans can be used across the United States at any accredited post-secondary school that accepts federal financial aid.

We know higher education takes many forms. While there are many educational paths for your children, one thing is certain: Ohio's tax-free 529 Plan is the simple way to help. Your savings grow tax-free and stay tax-free when used for qualified higher education expenses. And Ohio's 529 Plan can be used at thousands of schools, nationwide.

For more than 34 years, Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, has been helping families across the nation save for their children’s higher education. Ohio’s 529 Plan covers qualified costs at any four-year college or university, two-year community college, trade or vocational school, apprenticeship approved by the U.S. Labor Department, or certificate program nationwide that accepts federal financial aid. Learn, plan, and start for as little as $25 today at

Back To Top