529 College Savings Plans

A 529 College Savings Plan is a state-sponsored, tax-advantaged savings plan that can help families and individuals save for higher education expenses. These plans offer a number of benefits, including tax-deferred growth potential and federal income tax-free withdrawals when used for qualified education expenses.

Funds can be used at most accredited colleges and universities in the U.S. and at many colleges abroad. Qualified expenses include tuition, fees, eligible room and board, books, supplies and required equipment for attendance at a higher education institution.

In addition to the federal tax benefit, many states offer a state income tax deduction or tax credit for contributions to their 529 plans as well as state income tax-free withdrawals for qualified expenses.

Account owners maintain control over all funds in the 529 College Savings Account. 529 College Savings Plans also offer gift and estate tax planning benefits. Each plan offers a variety of low-cost investment options.


529 Plan Profile*

Program/Account Fees

No sales charges, application or maintenance fees; low asset-based management fee — see the state's Program Disclosure booklet for details.

Initial Investment

Minimum contribution for most states is $25 per Investment Option, or $15 per pay period per Investment Option, through payroll deduction.

Contribution Limits

There is a lifetime maximum account balance, which varies by state.

Effect on Financial Aid

The treatment of investments in a 529 savings plan varies by school.  Assets are typically treated as the account holder's and not the student's.  Any investments, including those in 529 accounts, may affect the student's eligibility to get financial aid based on need.  Please check with the schools you are considering for details.


Contributions to 529 plan accounts are available for withdrawal 10 days after receipt of contribution by Program Manager's transfer agent. Withdrawals for purposes other than qualified educational expenses may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax.

Eligible Expenses

Qualified higher education expenses include tuition, mandatory fees, books, supplies and equipment required for the enrollment and attendance of the beneficiary at an eligible educational institution; and, under certain circumstances, room and board expenses. 

Qualified higher education expenses also include certain additional enrollment and attendant costs of a beneficiary who is a special needs beneficiary in connection with the beneficiary's enrollment or attendance at an eligible institution.  For this purpose, eligible educational institutions generally are accredited post-secondary educational institutions offering credit toward a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree, a graduate-level degree or professional degree, or another recognized post-secondary credential.


While in the account, any earnings are federal and state income tax deferred. Withdrawals used for qualified higher education expenses are also exempt from federal income tax, and possibly state income tax.

* These product features can vary from state to state. Please check your state's 529 Plan Program Brochure and Program Disclosure booklet for more details. If, after reviewing the website, you'd like to speak with a college savings consultant, please call 888 381-8283.

Before investing in a 529 plan, you should consider whether the state you or your designated beneficiary reside in or have taxable income in has a 529 plan that offers favorable state income tax or other benefits that are only available if you invest in that state's 529 plan.

Account value in the Investment Options is not guaranteed and will fluctuate based upon a number of factors, including general market conditions.

Non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax.

TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., Program Manager

Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in any of the TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. managed 529 College Savings Plans. Please call 888 381-8283 for a Disclosure Booklet containing this and other information. Read it carefully.

The tax information herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

© 2013 and prior years, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), New York, NY 10017