What is a 529 plan?
529 plans are one of the most tax-advantaged ways Americans have been able to save for educational expenses since the Internal Revenue Code section 529 started them in 1996. 529 plans basically operate like a “Roth IRA” in that after-tax money goes into a 529 plan, but then the money grows tax-deferred and may be withdrawn 100% tax free if used on qualified educational expenses.
Can I set up a 529 plan while living outside the US?
Yes, GFM is one of very few investment advisors in Hong Kong that helps US taxpayers living in Asia set up and invest 529 plans.
How do I choose the best 529 plan?
For new 529 plan accounts, we recommend the Utah My529 because it is offers a good choice of low-cost Vanguard funds as well as some high-quality funds from Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), on the My529 which we can manage professionally. My529 is the 4th largest direct-sold plan in the US, and GFM founder Tariq Dennison invests his children’s college savings in Utah’s My529 as well as in New York’s NYSaves and the pooled pre-paid tuition Private College 529 plan (Account maintenance form). NYSaves has similar costs on the Vanguard funds, but does not offer the DFA funds, nor is it set up for professional fee-only advisors to help manage asset allocations.
If you are researching US colleges and universities, I also recommend trying the Department of Education’s college score card tool at https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/ , where you can see averages of how much graduates earn after completing each major.