List of 529 Day (5/29) College Savings Plan Promotions – Updated 2021

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Updated for 2021 (added new PA bonus). 5/29 is “National 529 College Savings Plan Day” and certain state plans are offering promotions and/or giveaways. Most offers end by May 31st, so it can help to start early and get everything set up. Some offers require in-state residency, but some don’t. 529 plans can now also pay for K-12 tuition and other expenses.

Pennsylvania 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan $100 bonus

This 529 Day, we’re providing $100 to the first 529 new PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan accounts opened between May 28 and May 31 with automatic contributions from your bank account or payroll deduction. Conditions apply.

Utah My529 Plan$40 bonus

Open a new my529 account between May 1 and May 31, 2021, and you could be eligible to receive up to $40 contributed to your account. First, contribute at least $25 to the new my529 account between May 1 and May 31, and my529 will match the $25 contribution on or about June 7, 2021, if you meet the requirements [including that you must be a Utah resident.
Second, to get an additional $15 (for a total amount of $40 with the $25 match), you must meet [additional requirements]

California Scholarshare 529$50 bonus

When you open a new ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan account with a $50 contribution (and sign up for recurring contributions of $25 or more per month for a minimum of 6 months) between May 24, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and May 31, 2021, at 8:59 p.m. (PT), ScholarShare 529 will match $50 on or before January 31, 2022. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Promotion ends 05/31/21.

Minnesota 529 College Savings Plan (MNSAVES)$50 bonus

When you open a new Minnesota College Savings Plan (MNSAVES) account with a $50 contribution (and sign up for recurring contributions of $25 or more per month for a minimum of 6 months) between May 24, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and May 31, 2021, at 10:59 p.m. (CT), MNSAVES will match $50 on or before January 31, 2022. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Promotion ends 05/31/21.

Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP)$50 bonus

When you open a new Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP) account with a $50 contribution (and sign up for recurring contributions of $25 or more per month for a minimum of 6 months) between May 24, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and May 31, 2021, at 10:59 p.m. (CT), OCSP will match $50 on or before January 31, 2022. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Promotion ends 05/31/21.

Wisconsin Edvest College Savings Plan,$50 bonus

When you open a new Edvest account with a $50 contribution (and sign up for recurring contributions of $25 or more per month for a minimum of 6 months) between May 24, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and May 31, 2021, at 10:59 p.m. (CT), Edvest will match $50 on or before January 31, 2022. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Promotion ends 05/31/21.

Michigan 529 Education Savings Program$50 bonus

When you open a new Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP) account with a $50 contribution (and sign up for recurring contributions of $25 or more per month for a minimum of 6 months) between May 24, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and May 31, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. (ET), MESP will match $50 on or before January 31, 2022. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Promotion ends 05/31/21.

Idaho Ideal 529 College Savings Program$25 bonus

Open an IDeal — Idaho College Savings Program account online between May 1-29, 2021. It only takes a few minutes! Make an initial contribution of $25 or more and we’ll add $25 to your account. To qualify for the $25 match, the beneficiary of the account MUST BE age 5 or younger. This special offer is limited to the first 200 accounts opened during this period, so don’t wait!

My brief history of 529 bonuses. I started picking up some of these 529 bonuses and tax breaks on contributions even before I had a kid. I set myself up as both the owner and beneficiary (I was still in school at the time, so I could just spend it on tuition). For a while, the best credit card rewards available to me was a Fidelity 529 credit card that gave 2% cash back towards their 529 plans. I racked up thousands of dollars in cash back in the Fidelity-sponsored 529 plan. Eventually, I consolidated all of our 529 balances across various state plans into the Utah My529 plan and changed the beneficiaries to my children. It did require some amount of paperwork and Medallion Signature guarantees, so I wouldn’t recommend it over just a $25 bonus, but overall these early contributions added up to a surprisingly large sum.

My brief take on 529 college savings plans in general. First, I believe that you should worry about having adequate emergency and retirement savings first. Take care of yourself, so your kids won’t have to take care of you. That’s a gift to them as well. However, if you are on track otherwise, a 529 plan can be a handy package of automated savings, automated investment, no annual tax paperwork, and valuable tax savings. For example, setting up an auto-deposit of $50 every month could add up to nearly $20,000 at the end of 18 years (assuming 6% return).

In addition, 529 plans are a great way to store up gifts from grandparents without affecting their future financial aid. Instead of a big toy gift, try asking the grandparents to give a small toy gift each year along with a cash contribution to the 529:

Because of pending changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students will no longer have to disclose cash support. That means effective for the 2023-2024 school year, grandparent-owned 529 accounts will no longer impact a student’s eligibility to receive needs-based financial aid.

In terms of picking a specific plan, remember to first consider your state-specific tax benefits via the tools from Morningstar, SavingForCollege, or Vanguard. Morningstar estimates that an upfront tax break of at least 5% can make it worth investing in your in-state plan even if it is not otherwise a top plan (assuming that is required to get the tax benefit).

If you don’t have anything compelling available, anyone can open a 529 plan from any state. You can open multiple 529 plans, and you can roll over your funds from one into another 529 plan once every rolling 12 months. (Watch out for tax-benefit recapture if you got a tax break initially.) Here are the most recent Morningstar Top 529 College Savings Plan Rankings. (Utah and Michigan are top plans and have bonuses above.) I personally invest in the Utah My529 Plan for my children due to their DIY glide path feature and DFA fund access, but would also recommend the Vanguard Nevada 529 Plan if you want something that is more “set-and-forget”. Just pick one and go. Taking action and setting up an automatic savings plan is the most important.

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Comments

  1. I looked into the Utah 529 after your original article. All four of my grandchildren have a Utah 529 now and it’s a good plan. Note: None of us live in Utah.

  2. For Minnesota, there is a specific password if you want to integrate your account with personal capital. This password is different than the login password.

  3. Added another $100 bonus for Pennsylvania 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan

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