Investing Tools for College: The ESA

All parents want their children to have all the opportunities that this world offers. All parents sacrifice things in their own lives for their children. Some parents even sacrifice retirement savings to give their kids everything that they could possibly want. Some parents will take out a second mortgage to help pay for kids college.

Some parents will take out student loans and so will their children. I have written a couple of times about ways to avoid student loans. There are multiple ways to avoid the dreaded student loans and this strategy is one of the best. This strategy starts the investing for college when the child is young and the investing continues for years. This investing tool is called the ESA, or Coverdell Education Savings Account. It is a great way to start preparing for college today and avoid student loans in the future. 

The ESA is a tax advantage account that can be used for the cost of education expenses in the future for a designated beneficiary. These expenses include college tuition, college room and board, other college expenses and tuition for elementary and high schools.

The ESA Basics:

  • $2,000 Contribution Limit per year. 
  • Contributions aren't tax deductible.
  • Only allowed to invest if your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is less than $110,000 for an individual or less than $220,000 for a joint return.
  • Contribution limits are reduced for MAGI levels between $95,000 and $110,000 for individuals and between $190,000 and $220,000 for joint returns.
  • Can be opened for any beneficiary under the age of 18 or a special needs beneficiary.
  • Money grows tax free (tax-sheltered).
  • Distributions are tax free for qualified education expenses.
  • Distributions will be taxed, if used for anything other than a education.
  • Contributions can be made up to the tax filing due date.
    • This Means:
      • You could invest $2,000 in February 2017 for the 2016 filing tax year.
      • And you could also invest $2,000 in February 2017 for the 2017 tax year.
  • Contributions must be made in cash.
  • ESA may be rolled over to another account of a relative or the name of the beneficiary may be changed to a relative:
    • Relatives of the beneficiary include:
      • Siblings (including step-sisters and step-brothers)
      • Parents (as long as the parent is under the age of 30)
      • Brother or Sister of Parents
      • First Cousins
      • Son or Daughter of a Brother or Sister
      • Son-in-law, Daughter-in-law, Father-in-law, Mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law
      • The spouse of any individual listed above.
  • One rollover per year.

If you are interested in an ESA, it can be taken out at any qualifying bank or investment firm that offers an ESA. A lot of families struggle with the cost of college, as well as deal with the stress of the added cost of college. Avoid this stress by starting to invest for your child's future today.

My wife and I have decided to start preparing for our child's educational future and open up an ESA account for our daughter. By April 15th of this year, she will have $4,000 invested in a college fund. Will you take this step toward a stress free college experience four your children? I challenge all families with young children to start their college investing today! There is no better gift that you can give your kids.

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