Parents worried about how they’re going to pay for college have been steering more and more money into college-saving plans, also known as 529 plans. Investment in such plans, which under federal law must be sponsored by states, grew from $18 billion in 2002 to $318 billion in 2018. They’re attractive because investment gains are shielded from federal taxes, and many states give tax breaks to residents who contribute to in-state funds.

No wonder so many of us have been writing checks for these accounts, in our children’s or grandchildren’s names.


Quinn Curtis, How Some States Are Ripping Off People Who Try to Save for College, Washington Post (May 22, 2019).