Spring has officially sprung for 2024. For a fresh start for this new season, you may be thinking about spring cleaning projects. When you start your improvement plans in and around your house, be sure to take some time to review your children’s accounts with Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage. Some 529 college savings spring cleaning can include updating your two-factor authentication and saving strategies, including life changes in your savings planning, using tool and calculators to create the 529 plan that best fits your family’s needs, and going green to keep more clutter from your home.

Safety first

With two-factor authentication, your Ohio’s 529 account has an extra layer of security. This measure protects your valuable college savings account information from phishing attacks and identity theft. If it’s been a while since you’ve logged into your CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account, please make sure that your phone number is up to date. Your phone number is necessary to set up two-factor authentication, as you will receive either a text to receive your PIN (Personal Identification Number) or an automated outbound call.

If your phone number is current, then you can log into your account to initiate the two-factor authentication process. If not, please complete the Account Information Change Form and send this to the address within the document so we can update your information.

Be sure to create a strong and complex password that contains at least eight characters, including lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters, like punctuation marks and symbols. Additionally, you should clear the cache and cookies on your computer, mobile, or handheld device regularly.

529 saving strategies

Has it been a while since you’ve opened your CollegeAdvantage 529 account? It might be time to check out age-based savings strategies, especially if you’re not in a ready-made target enrollment portfolio, in which the equity will automatically decrease as your child grows older. This will reduce risk in the portfolio as the time comes closer to use the account to cover higher education expenses. The helpful to-do list will give you guidance on what to review every year, how to make some changes to your 529 account when needed, and what to do with your Ohio 529 account when it’s time to make withdrawals to pay for your child’s education or career training after high school.

If you still have a baby or toddler, you’ve done a great job by already starting to save for their future education and career training. Another saving is strategy is when loved ones ask what gifts you’d like for your child when celebrating a birthday, a holiday, or another major celebration, ask for the gift of higher education and share how they can add to your child’s account through Ugift.

And if you have downloaded our READYSAVE 529 app, you can send Ugift invitations to your family and friends either through a text message, email, Facebook Messenger, Facebook post, or Instagram Message. Once you provide the Ugift code, loved ones can visit Ugift529.com to make their electronic contribution securely from their bank account. It’s that easy.

If you still need to install  the READYSAVE 529 app on your cell phone, visit the Apple or Google Play app stores. Once you install the app, select Ohio’s 529 Plan from the list and log in with the same username and password you use to access your account online.

More than one child?

If you opened a 529 college savings plan when your first child was born but haven’t yet for your other bundles of joy, consider opening a 529 plan for each of them. Individual 529 accounts can maximize the tax benefits of saving for college or career training. These tax advantages include tax-free contributions and earnings, which means all investment is growth is yours to use, and tax-free withdrawals when used to pay qualified higher education expenses.

Additionally, Ohio residents can deduct their Ohio’s 529 Plan contributions from their state taxable income, up to $4,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. If you are an Ohioan with three Ohio 529 plans for your three children, you can maximize this tax benefit up to $12,000 per year. Because of the unlimited carry forward for the state income tax deduction, $4,000 per year is not a contribution cap. If you have one 529 account and you’ve contributed $12,000, you will subtract $4,000 per year from your Ohio taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.

Tools and calculators

While you’re reviewing your Ohio 529 account, you can check to see if you’re on track with your college savings goals with our tools and calculators. With the College Savings Estimator, you can receive an estimated monthly savings amount needed to reach your savings objectives. Changing the planned contribution amount in this tool to see how setting aside a little more money can really add up. The Cost of Delaying Tool can ascertain how much more you may need to save to reach your college savings or career training goals if you don’t start soon. The Tax Benefit Calculator can show you the long-term advantages of tax-free growth in a 529 plan when compared to a taxable savings account.

Go paperless

As you are clearing out papers in your home, set yourself up for future success by signing up for e-notification with Ohio’s 529 Plan.

E-notification is the fastest and most efficient way to receive communications from Ohio’s 529 Plan. These e-communications include your quarterly statements, offering statements updates, transactions and profile confirmations, and tax forms.

To switch to e-notification for Ohio 529 Plan communications, first log in to your account. To change your delivery preferences, go to your Profile and Documents section, then to Delivery Preference. Once there, select Edit Delivery Preferences and choose email.

Another way to go green is to make online withdrawals. As the U.S. Postal Service may experience delays in the delivery of materials, this could affect your payments being on time to pay for your child’s qualified higher education expenses. The fastest method to pay a higher education institution is to make an online withdrawal request online. By doing so, you can have that money sent directly to the school or have the 529 funds deposited directly into your bank account. Once the tax-free withdrawal is in your bank account, you can pay the school directly through the school’s online payment portal or you can write the check to cover your child’s qualified college costs. Please keep in mind the bank must be on file with CollegeAdvantage for at least 15 days before this is an available option.

Since 1989, Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, has been helping families across the nation save for their children’s education and career training after high school. Ohio’s 529 Plan covers qualified expenses at any four-year college or university, two-year community college, trade or vocational school, apprenticeship approved by the U.S. Labor Department, or certificate programs, or continuing education classes nationwide that accepts federal financial aid. Learn, plan, and start for as little as $25 today at CollegeAdvantage.

This article was originally posted in April 2019 and has been updated to reflect new information for 2024.
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