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How Grandparents May Benefit From College Funding

With the increase of student loan debt over the past 10 years, more grandparents are taking on the role of college funding. In fact, a Fidelity survey in 2014 found that 72 percent of grandparents feel it’s important to help out in this regard.

Many retirees walk a tightrope between wanting to make gifts to help family members yet still ensure they’ll have enough assets to last throughout retirement — including any unexpected expenses. For those who’d like to contribute toward college expenses, the 529 College Savings plan offers quite a few benefits for grandparents. Here are some of the benefits to consider:

  • You can contribute up to $70,000 ($140,000 from a married couple) in one year, per recipient, if you elect to treat the contribution as made over a five-year period for gift-tax purposes.
  • Some state plans allow the account owner to claim contributions as a state income tax deduction.
  • The account owner retains control of the assets, so the money can be accessed if needed for an emergency. It’s important to note that investment gains would be subject to a 10 percent penalty for withdrawals that are not spent toward qualified education expenses. You also would be subject to income tax on those gains.
  • If the intended grandchild doesn’t use the 529 money, the beneficiary can be changed to another relative. You even can use the money for your own qualifying continuing education.
  • The 529 isn’t a savings account; the money is invested for growth opportunity.
  • The 529 plan makes a good repository for required minimum contributions (RMD) from retirement plans.

The content provided here is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific legal or tax advice.  Contact us at info@securedretirements.com or call us at (952) 460­-3260 to schedule a time to discuss your financial situation and the potential role of investments in your financial strategy.

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Danielle Christensen


Danielle is dedicated to serving clients to achieve their retirement goals. As a Paraplanner, Danielle helps the advisors with the administrative side of preparing and documenting meetings. She is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict, with a degree in Business Administration and began working with Secured Retirement in May of 2023.

Danielle is a lifelong Minnesotan and currently resides in Farmington with her boyfriend and their senior rescue pittie/American Bulldog mix, Tukka.  In her free time, Danielle enjoys attending concerts and traveling. She is also an avid fan of the Minnesota Wild and loves to be at as many games as possible during the season!