The Best 529 Plans For Texas Residents

8 October 2010 2 Comments Print This Post Email This Post

Each state has a 529 plan which is considered a state-sponsored investment program. States may give deductions or credits in state income tax for 529 contributions.  If you are in a state outside of Texas check the deductions of your state 529 plan on the web.

However, in Texas there is no state income tax so you can consider any state’s 529 plan for the funding of your children’s college expenses.  We have come to find that the four best 529 programs for Texas residents are those in Arkansas, Nevada, Utah and Virginia.  Arkansas and Virginia require an advisor.

Arkansas: www.iShares529.com (888)529-9552

Nevada: www.upromisecollegefund.com (800)587-7305

Utah: www.uesp.org (800)418-2551

Virginia: www.americanfunds.com/college/college-america/index.htm (800)421-0180.

The contributions made into a 529 Plan are made with after-tax dollars but they benefit from tax deferred growth and tax-free distributions. Each states plan is different and some exceptions apply but generally the additional benefits include, no age limits on when the money must be used and no income limitations on donors.

Anyone can contribute to the accounts and the account owner stays in control of the assets and can withdraw them at any time. However, like ESAs if the withdrawals are not qualified (room, board, tuition or fees for post-secondary studies) there is a 10% penalty imposed on earnings and the earnings portion is also subject to tax as ordinary income at your tax rate. However, some 529 plans allow you to direct your withdrawals to the beneficiary, who most likely is in a lower tax bracket.

You may also have to report additional state “recapture” income on your original contributions. If the beneficiary decides not to go to college, or is unable to spend the amount in the account on qualified expenses one way of avoiding the penalty and tax consequences of emptying the account is to change the beneficiary.  You can change the beneficiary to the original beneficiary’s spouse, children, sisters, brothers, nephews, nieces, first cousins, and any spouses of those persons.

Further, an exception the penalty applies in cases in which the beneficiary has died or is disabled, or if you withdraw funds no longer needed for college because the beneficiary has received a scholarship.

You can fund a 529 plan instead of or in addition to an ESA.  Both the 529 and the ESA are financial aid friendly because they count as parental assets and therefore add only 5.6% to the expected contribution instead of the much higher cut expected from student assets.

  • Noah

    What about these out-of-state 529’s (mentioned in your Oct 2010) make them good for Texas residents? I have others tell me about funds in Ohio that are good as well…but if these funds have advantages for Texans the others don’t I want to be able to understand how you came to that conclusion. Looking forward to your response.

  • Jim

    Marc,

    I’m a Texas resident with a 3 year old and twins on the way. I want to start saving in a 529 type of plan and read your article from October 2010. I curious how you feel about the Texas Tuition Promise Fund and if this has any place in my financial plan. My wife’s family has a tradition of going to Texas A&M and I have a PhD from UT Arlington so I think at least one of our children will end up going to school in Texas. We have assets and hopefully will do well in the future so I’m not sure how the financial aid angle plays in our situation (i.e. I’ve read that schools considering students applying for financial aid based on their sources of money and that prepaid plans put them at a disadvantage).

    What would you think of using both the Texas Tuition Promise plan and the Utah plan to cover ourselves both ways?

    Thank you.

    Jim August