If you’ve got kids and plan for them to go to college, you may be familiar with 529 plans as a tax-free way to save for their education.
Now, in the midst of the holiday gift-giving season, there’s an easy way for relatives and friends to contribute to 529 plans you’ve already set up instead of buying traditional gifts.
UGift: Giving the gift of education
UGift is a free website that streamlines the process of contributing money to a child’s 529 college savings plan.
With UGift.com, parents of children who already have a 529 plan can create a special code that can be shared online so family and friends can send money online and help fund the child’s future education.
Minimum and maximum gift amounts that can be contributed vary by individual 529 plan rules, but there are no fees associated with using UGift.
So that means all the money goes directly to the student’s 529 plan account! And this isn’t just for Christmas, either; think birthday, graduations and other milestones.
For parents of children with disabilities, Ugift also works with Achieving a Better Life (ABLE) accounts, allowing them to save for their child’s education without jeopardizing qualification for needs-based benefits.
UGift currently partners with 529 plan program managers in 18 states plus the District of Columbia.
But don’t worry if your state’s plan isn’t one of them; many plans now have a similar program that lets you create an e-code that can be shared on social media or via email so your extended network of relatives and other loved ones can contribute to your child’s education.
And thanks to recent changes in the tax code, the money in a 529 can be used for more than just the college years; it now can be applied toward tuition at private schools for kindergarten through 12th grade, too.
Money expert Clark Howard’s has a comprehensive guide to 529 plans — including which individual plans have the lowest fees and therefore make the best choice in your state — right here.