529 college savings plans

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Save for education expenses with tax-free investment growth potential

Our education savings consultants are here to help you find the right 529 college savings plan for you.
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What you get from a 529 plan


Tax advantages

Any earnings can grow free of federal and state income tax. Some states offer an income tax deduction, reduction or credit for money you put in.
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Use your account to pay for qualified higher education expenses (tuition, books, supplies, and computers), K-12 tuition, apprenticeships and student loan repayments. Limitations apply.1


TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. manages plans for 6 states. Choose any state plan based on your needs - no matter what state you live in.

Get the Basics

529 college savings plans help you save for higher education

A 529 college savings plan helps you save for higher education. You can open one for your children, grandchildren or even yourself.
saving is simple

Saving is simple

Open an account You can enroll online by selecting a state plan below or open your account by requesting an enrollment kit.
Contribute & invest Choose an investment option(s), set up regular contributions, and invite family and friends to contribute, too.
Pay for college Withdraw money from your plan tax free, as long as the money goes toward qualified educational expenses.
Manage what's left If any money is left over, you can continue to invest your savings tax free for future education costs.
TIAA Options

529 Plan Finder

Before choosing a plan, consider whether the state where you or your beneficiary lives has a 529 plan that offers state tax benefits.
Enter the 2-letter abbreviation  for the state you live in to find a 529 plan.

Commonly asked 529 college savings plan questions

  • A 529 college savings plan offers unique tax advantages for people investing money for college.  By law, all 529 savings plans must be state sponsored, but you don’t have to be a resident of a particular state to invest in that state's plan (but there may be income tax advantages available only to state residents for a particular plan). There’s no income limit to participate in a 529 college savings plan, and you can open one on behalf of any beneficiary — even yourself.
  • 529 college savings plan features can differ from state to state, like contribution limits, fees, in-state tax advantages, and available investment options.
  • In general, any U.S. citizen or resident alien with a Social Security Number or federal Taxpayer Identification Number can open and contribute to a 529 college savings plan account on behalf of a beneficiary. You can even open an account for yourself.
  • Any U.S. citizen or resident alien, including the account owner, can be the beneficiary. The beneficiary must have a valid Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number.
  • Yes, with most plans you can change the beneficiary or transfer a portion of your investment to a different beneficiary, provided the new beneficiary is an eligible "member of the family" of the previous beneficiary.
  • A "member of the family" is a person related to the account beneficiary, including:
    • a child or a descendant of a child
    • a brother, sister, stepbrother or stepsister
    • the father or mother, or an ancestor of either
    • a stepfather or stepmother
    • a son or daughter of a brother or sister
    • a brother or sister of the father or mother
    • a son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law or sister-in-law
    • the spouse of the beneficiary or spouse of any of the above family members
    • a first cousin of the beneficiary
    Refer to the Plan Description for complete details regarding the plan’s definition of “Member of Family”.
    In these cases, “a child” includes a legally adopted child and a stepson or stepdaughter. A “brother or sister” includes a half-brother or half-sister.
  • The maximum amount you can invest is determined by the specific state plan you choose and varies from state to state. For many plans, the limit is $300,000 or more for all accounts in the plan for a beneficiary.
  • If your account beneficiary doesn’t attend college, the owner, may name another account beneficiary (who must be an eligible family member of the beneficiary that is being replaced). Otherwise, if you withdraw the funds for a purpose other than to pay for qualified higher education, then you would have to pay federal income tax on the earnings portion of the withdrawal, plus an additional 10% federal tax penalty. There may also be state tax consequences. We recommend you talk to a qualified tax advisor.
  • If your beneficiary receives a scholarship, you can withdraw the funds from your account up to the amount of the scholarship without penalty or additional tax. The earnings portion of the amount withdrawn will be subject to the additional 10% federal tax to the extent the amount withdrawn exceeds the amount of the scholarship . We recommend you talk to a qualified tax advisor.
  • You won’t pay any federal or state income taxes on your 529 college savings plan account earnings if you use them to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Qualified higher education expenses include tuition, fees, books, computers, and certain room and board charges, among other things.
    Withdrawals for tuition expenses at a public, private or religious elementary, middle, or high school, registered apprenticeship programs, and student loans can be withdrawn free from federal taxes, however subject to state income tax. You should talk to a qualified advisor about how tax provisions affect your circumstances.

    Contributions to a college savings plan aren’t deductible for federal income tax purposes, but some states allow their residents to deduct contributions from their state income taxes. Check with your state to determine what limits currently apply.
  • An eligible educational institution generally includes accredited postsecondary educational institutions offering credit toward a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree, a graduate-level degree or professional degree, or another recognized postsecondary credential.
    Contact the school to determine if it qualifies as an eligible educational institution or use the Federal School Code Search  on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)  website.
  • Qualified higher education expenses include tuition, fees, certain room and board expenses, and the cost of books supplies and equipment required for your beneficiary to enroll in an attend an eligible education institution.  Computers and related technology such as internet access fees, software or printers are also qualified education expenses.
    For federal tax purposes, any reference to qualified higher education expenses also includes K-12 tuition, apprenticeships and student loan repayment.  Limitations apply.1
    If your beneficiary requires special needs services in connection with their ability to enroll in or attend an eligible institution, those services are also considered qualified expenses.


Experience. Knowledge. Leadership.

TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc.  (TFI)  was  one of the first  program managers to enter the 529 college savings plan market, and we ’re still at the head of the class.

TFI manages 6 low-cost, 529 state college savings plan programs — none of which have sales charges, start-up or maintenance fees. Plus, our dedicated education  savings specialists can answer your questions and help you choose a plan that works best for you.
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1Up to $10,000 annually per student from all 529 plans may be withdrawn for tuition expenses at a public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school or registered apprenticeship program. Up to $10,000 may be used from a 529 plan to repay student loan principal or interest of either a 529 plan designated beneficiary or a sibling of the designated beneficiary. To be a qualified expense, the loan repayment amount for an individual is subject to a lifetime limit of $10,000.  Some states do not fully conform with the federal laws regarding distributions for K-12 tuition, apprenticeship programs and student loan repayment. Distributions used to pay for K-12 tuition, registered apprenticeship programs and student loans may be considered nonqualified and the earnings portion of the withdrawal is subject to state income tax. In addition, nonconforming states offering a state income tax deduction for 529 plan contributions may impose a recapture if funds are used for K-12 tuition, apprenticeship programs and student loan repayment. You should talk to a qualified professional about how tax provisions affect your circumstances.
The 529 college savings plans listed above are offered and administered by the state. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. is the program manager. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, member FINRA is distributor and underwriter for the plans managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. Most states offer a 529 college savings plan.
Before investing, check your state's website for information about any favorable state tax benefits or other benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds or protections from creditors that are only available if you invest in that state’s plan.
Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in a state 529 college savings plan. Carefully read the Disclosure Booklet available on each state’s site, or call us at 888-381-8283.
Investments in a state 529 college savings plan are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is risk of investment loss.
Non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax. Taxpayers should seek advice from an independent tax advisor based on their own particular circumstances.
Neither TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., nor its affiliates, are responsible for the content found on the external website links contained herein.