SMART529: Myths vs. Facts

Apr 21 2015

By Amy Hamilton, SMART529 Representative

Fact or Fiction?

Believe it or not, there are hundreds maybe thousands out there that don’t know about 529 college savings accounts. Or, if they do, they don’t understand the benefits of having an account. The Treasurer’s Office administers West Virginia’s 529 college savings plan, called SMART529.


Here are a few things you might have heard or misheard about SMART529 or 529 plans in general:


Fiction: I have to use the plan in West Virginia.

Fact: Definitely not! You can use your 529 savings plan at any eligible institution nationwide and several overseas schools. These include colleges, universities, trade, technical and vocational schools.


Fiction: My child will get a full ride, who needs to save?

Fact: It seems there are fewer and fewer students getting a free ride these days. 529 savings plans are scholarship compatible, especially with West Virginia’s PROMISE Scholarship. The SMART529 plan is also flexible. You can change the beneficiary to another family member if your student is fortunate enough to get a full scholarship.


Fiction: It’s difficult to open a 529 plan account.

Fact: It’s relatively easy to open an account. SMART529 offers two ways -1) enroll on your own or 2) with the help of a financial advisor. The basic information needed is the name, address, birthdate and social security number of the person to be named as the account owner and the same for the beneficiary (person you are opening the account for). If you enroll on your own, you will need to make your own investment decisions from a variety of options. See for details on opening a plan.


Fiction: My child is in high school. That’s too old to start saving.

Fact: It’s never too late to start! While it’s best to open an account when they are younger, you can open an account for a person of any age, including yourself! You will receive the same federal and state tax benefits available to anyone with a 529 plan.


Fiction: Only parents can open an account or contribute.

Fact: Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, nearly anyone can open an account. If you don’t choose to own the account, you can still contribute to an existing account. You will need to contact the account owner to receive the account number and other information.


Of course, there are many other myths out there. If you’ve heard of any or just aren’t sure you what you heard is correct, let us know! Call us toll free at 866-574-3542.

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West Virginia State Treasurer's Office
1900 Kanawha Boulevard
Capitol Complex Building #1, Room E-145
Charleston, West Virginia 25305
304-558-5000 Toll Free: 800-422-7498

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