As parents, grandparents and students we know college is coming and that we're somehow going to have to pay for it someday. Fortunately we have many options available to us including savings bonds, the stock market and 529 plans. Starting a 529 account now is always the best option, no matter how old you (or your child) is. While playing the stock market may yield higher returns on your investment, placing your money into a 529 plan allows it to grow in a tax free environment. One study even found that when the federal tax benefits were taken into consideration, 529 plans outperformed their benchmarks in every category.
Georgia has it's own state-operated 529 plan called Path2College 529 Plan. It is important to note that your child does not have to go to a GA college or university in order to use this savings account. 529 plan funds can be used at any accredited college or university across the nation, including some K-12 private schools!
Georgia College Costs & Trends
Colleges and universities across the United States experienced increased operating costs of 2.5% in 2019. This most recent inflation figure was down slightly from the 2.9 percent increase in 2018 and 3.4 percent increase in 2017. These costs are forwarded directly to students in the form of higher tuition and living expenses. As these costs steadily rise every year, parents are looking for ways to help offset these future higher education costs.
These rising costs are hitting closer to home in Georgia as well. Georgia's higher education costs rose by 74.7% in just the last 10 years, ranking as the 4th highest state.
The table below shows the average one-year costs in 2020 for different types of Georgia colleges and universities.
|Ownership||Degree||Schools||Public Out-of-State Tuition||Public In-State Tuition||Median Debt||Total Annual In-State Cost|
These costs rise every year. Rising tuition is a major driver in these increased higher education costs. Tuition at a 4-year university in GA rose 14% (ranked 35th worst in the US), while a 2-year or trade school increased their tuition by 20 percent.
529 Tax Benefits for Georgia Residents
Georgia offers tax benefits and deductions when savings are put into your child's 529 savings plan.
|For single filers:||$4,000/yr per beneficiary|
|For joint filers:||$8,000/yr per beneficiary|
Best 529 Plans in Georgia
The Georgia Path2College 529 plan is managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., and offers two age-based options, two static options, and a guaranteed option.
|State Plan Name:||Path2College 529 Plan|
|Maximum Contribution:||up to $235,000 across accounts per beneficiary|
|Fees:||Asset management fees range from 0.06% to 0.08%.|
Georgia 529 Plan Statistics
There are 173,763 registered schools in Georgia with a total value of $3,101,378,795. That is an average of $17,848 per account. Unfortunately 529 plans are not widely used... a 2018 study by Edward Jones found that only 29 percent of Americans were even aware that 529 savings plans exist!