Thursday, March 15, 2012

529 College Savings Plans

by Lucy Schrader


If you are looking to save for your child’s college, a 529 plan can be a place to invest.  Following is some general information about the 529 plans and information about the Missouri MOST 529 plan and their matching grant program (if you qualify and get approved, your contributions can be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $500 per year for a lifetime maximum of $2,500).


Many 529 plans offer easy ways to enroll and low minimums to contribute.  For example, in one plan you can open an account with $25, and you can make future contributions with a minimum of $25.  Grandparents, relatives and friends can make contributions to the 529 plan, too (which can make great birthday or holiday presents).


Saving for College and Missouri MOST give the following information:

529 plan history

A 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future higher education costs at eligible 2- to 4-year colleges, postgraduate programs, or secondary trade and vocational schools.

Funds from a 529 plan cover qualified education expenses such as tuition and books, plus certain room and board fees. It is named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

State plans can be used for out-of-state colleges

529 Plans can be used to meet costs of qualified colleges nationwide. In most plans, your choice of school is not affected by the state your 529 savings plan is from. You can be a CA resident, invest in a VT plan and send your student to college in NC. Check to see if your institution is eligible under 529 rules.

Which states offer 529 plans?

Every state now has at least one 529 plan available. It's up to each state to decide whether it will offer a 529 plan (possibly more than one) and what it will look like, meaning 529 plans can differ from state to state. You should research the features and benefits of your plan before you invest, research state 529 plans and even compare between plans.

Tax Benefits

As long as the plan satisfies a few basic requirements, the federal tax law provides special tax benefits to you, the plan participant. See the top 7 benefits of 529 plans. Some states (but not all) offer tax incentives to investors as well. Research your state's tax treatment.


For the Missouri MOST 529 plan, you can get federal and state tax savings.  Earnings are exempt from federal and Missouri state income tax when used to pay for qualified higher-education expenses.** (Withdrawals may also be free of state income tax for residents of other states.) Missouri taxpayers can deduct up to $8,000 in contributions ($16,000 if married, filing jointly) in computing Missouri adjusted gross income each year.***


** Earnings on nonqualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.


*** Contributions to the plan in a tax year are deductible from Missouri state income tax up to certain limits, but may be subject to recapture in subsequent years if you make a nonqualified withdrawal.


Missouri MOST 529 plan and their Matching Grant Program

The Missouri MOST 529 plan currently offers a matching grant program (  If you qualify and are approved, your contributions will be matched up to $500 per year (for a lifetime maximum of $2,500).  You must reapply each year.

How do I qualify?

  • Applicant must be a parent or legal guardian of the beneficiary.
  • Both you and the beneficiary must be Missouri residents.
  • You must be the account owner of a MOST 529 Plan account.
  • The beneficiary must be 13 or younger (when you are first approved for the matching grant).
  • Your household Missouri adjusted gross income must be $74,999 or less (see chart below).

How does the program work?
If you qualify and are approved for the program, contributions to your MOST 529 Plan account will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $500 per year. There is a lifetime maximum of $2,500, and account owners are required to reapply for the program each year.

Details of the match are shown in the following table:

Household Missouri Adjusted Gross Income

Match Rate

Maximum Match per Year

Lifetime Maximum Matching Grant

0 to $74,999

$1 for each $1 contributed



How can I apply?

  • Read the Matching Grant Program Instructions.
  • Download and complete a MOST Matching Grant Program Application.
  • Mail your application and required materials (to the address listed on the application) between March 1 and June 30.
  • You'll be notified by August 31 if your application is accepted.
  • If approved, matching funds will be applied in January based on the previous year's contributions.


As you save for college, small amounts add up over the years and make a difference!


For more information

Missouri MOST 529 plan


Saving for College


Lucy Schrader
HES Associate State Specialist and
Building Strong Families Program Coordinator
University of Missouri Extension
162 Stanley Hall
Columbia, MO  65211


1 comment:

understanding a 529 plan said...

It is very important to save early for your child education for him or her to have a good future. Thanks for the information about 529 college savings plan.