Our son’s J-Term from college ended yesterday. He’s been out of the classroom since just before Christmas and will be starting his Spring semester today. It’s hard to believe the he’ll be finishing his Junior year in a few months and he has already started to interview for summer internships.
I thought this might be a good time to look back on how the 15 years of saving for college has turned out for us. I last wrote about college savings & expenses when he was still in high school in THIS POST. It’s hard to believe that the 21 year old young man we now drink whisky with was once a three-year old that we named on a 529 plan back in the year 2000.
In short, the saving we did for his tuition, room & board, and books has gone really well. I’ve been drawing down his 529 each semester for the last three years and it has about one more semester left in it. The last semester we will just pay out of our general savings, as we also did for some summer classes he took to get ahead on credits.
When you are first starting, it’s hard to know exactly how much to put into a tax-free 529 Plan. Colleges come with a lot of different price tags, and we only have one child, so we can’t rollover extra money to the next dependent (it could also have been used for grad school). I wrote THIS POST on the difficulty in knowing if you are getting a good value in selecting a college a few years ago.
Still it has all worked out without any surprises. I would estimate that the tax savings from the 529 Plan will fund about 3 semesters worth of his Bachelor’s degree – out of his 8 semesters total. Next fall I’ll take the last withdrawal from the account, but already consider it one of the simplest and most useful investments we’ve made.
How has your experience with college savings plans been?
Image Credit: (c) MrFireStation.com, University of St Thomas (St. Paul, MN)