Virginia 529 College Savings Plan
Virginia offers four unique saving programs to help you achieve your higher education goals. Each of these programs will give you investment options that you can use to grow your savings to pay for education at universities, community colleges, and trade schools across the country.
The four types of programs include the following:
- Virginia Prepaid Education Program
- Virginia Education Savings Trust
- College Wealth
Commonalities Between Virginia 529 College Savings Programs
All earnings from these plans may be distributed tax free for most educational expenses.
Virginia residents can receive a state tax break on 529 contributions up to $4,000 per account.
Any U.S. citizen can participate in the Virginia Education Savings Trust, CollegeAmerica, and College Wealth plans. (Virginia Prepaid Education Program only available to VA residents.)
Virginia Prepaid Education Program
The Virginia Prepaid Education Program (VPEP) allows Virginia residents to prepay the costs of tomorrow’s education based on today’s tuition rates. The program allows you to make payments towards undergraduate tuition and fees based on the normal full-time course load and costs of Virginia’s public colleges and universities.
When can you open an account and start?
The VA Prepaid program is available to newborns-ninth grade. If your child or beneficiary is a grade higher than that, you will not be eligible for the program.
The enrollment period for the plan is December 1 – March 31 of each year. The application fee is $25 and account owners must be at least 18 years old. Beneficiaries of the 529 plan must be a U.S. citizen or legal U.S. resident.
Tax Treatments and Features
VPEP contributions are not deductible from federal taxable income. Virginia taxpayers may take a state income tax deduction for VPEP payments up to $4,000 per year per account. Virginia residents over age 70 may deduct 100% of their contributions towards a VPEP.
Contribution Minimum and Maximums
The maximum amount a Virginia resident can contribute to any of the Virginia 529 plans is $350,000 per beneficiary. Since the payment is based on your beneficiary’s projected year of college attendance, your minimum payment will depend on their age. For a newborn, the monthly payment may be around $47.00 a month according to the prepaid plan pricing chart.
Prepaid Payment Plan
You may choose between a lump sum payment, a five year (60 month) payment plan, which is available for children who have not yet completed the 7th grade, or an extended payment plan, which will extend the payments until June 1st of the year your student is expected to enroll in a Virginia college. The interest percentage used to calculate payments is around 8 percent.
Virginia Education Savings Trust
The Virginia Education Savings Trust (VEST) is a 529 plan option offered by the state of Virginia. The plan is open to anyone regardless of state residency and there are no age restrictions to the plan.
Unlike the Prepaid program, enrollment is opened all year round and you simply need $25 to enroll in the VEST.
Contribution Minimum and Maximums
The maximum amount a Virginia resident can contribute to any of the Virginia 529 plans is $350,000 per beneficiary. The minimum contribution to the plan is set at $25 and subsequent contributions must amount to at least $250 and must be made at least one year from the time you open the account, otherwise your account may be canclled.
Age Based Funds
The VEST plan allows you to choose a mutual fund option that adjusts based on your age. As you near college age, your investment portfolio automatically adjusts to become more conservative. There are currently 8 age based portfolios to choose from:
James River (Ages 0-3)
Eastern Shore (Ages 4-6)
Alleghany (Ages 7-9)
Chesapeake (Ages 10-12)
Potomac (Ages 13-15)
Southside (Ages 15-18)
Piedmont (Over 18)
The non-evolving portfolios do not change their allocation at specific times. The account owner of the plan has the option to change their portfolio selection once per calendar year for their beneficiary. There are currently 10 options for the non-evolving funds within the VEST Plan.
The underlying funds within the VEST plan have fees that range from 0.29% to 0.98. The average fee is about 0.40%. For full details on the plans fees, see the fund prospectus.
Tax Treatments and Features
VEST contributions are not deductible from federal taxable income. Virginia taxpayers may take a state income tax deduction for VEST payments up to $4,000 per year per account. Virginia residents over age 70 may deduct 100% of their contributions towards a VEST. Only the account owner of the VEST account can take a Virginia state tax deduction for a contribution made to the account. While others may contribute to a VEST account owned by another individual, they will not be eligible for the Virginia state tax deduction.
The CollegeAmerica option allows you to maintain a Virginia 529 college savings plan through your American Funds adviser. This option is available only through American Funds and gives investors the ability to work one on one with their American Funds financial professional to create a plan to pay for college the smart way.
Since this option is only available through an American Funds financial adviser, contact your local American Funds office for more information.
CollegeWealth is the only FDIC insured 529 plan available in Virginia. By partnering with banks and credit unions, the Virginia 529 plan is available to your family along with FDIC insurance of up to $250,000.
The CollegeWealth plan does not require residency in Virginia and does not have income phase out limits. The two banks currently participating in the Virginia 529 college savings plan are: BB&T and Union First Market Bank. Both have a minimum requirement of $25 to open the account and have no monthly maintenance or annual fee to maintain the account. Check with each bank to review the investment options available through money markets and CDs.
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