This is a sponsored post curated by me on behalf of Maryland 529. All opinions are 100% mine – and I too am an account holder and contributor to a Maryland 529 Investment Plan Account!

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The joy that surrounds a couple when they find out they are expecting is amazing! It’s usually a mixture of fear and excitement and as most parents will tell you, “Enjoy them now, as they grow up fast!” This statement is oh-so-true and many people think they have time to start saving for their kids’ future, but believe it or not the earlier you start saving the less you will have to save!

When my grandparents started saving for my education, they started as soon as I had a social security number! And they did not have tons of money to get started, it was the consistency of saving just $25 a week that increased over time that allowed me to graduate college debt free! This is why you need to start saving for the future of your loved ones now. Maryland 529 plans are a great starting place, and to entice you even more, if eligible, you could receive a State contribution to your loved one’s account!

What is a Maryland 529 plan?

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed for families to save for their child’s college expenses. Maryland 529 offers two flexible, affordable plans that make it easy for you to start saving early for your child’s education. The Maryland Prepaid College Trust (MPCT) lets you lock in future tuition at today’s prices and it is backed by Legislative Guarantee. With an MPCT account, you have flexible savings options so you can save for four-year universities, two-year universities, community college, or semesters at a time. The Maryland College Investment Plan (MCIP) is managed by T. Rowe Price and is designed to help individuals and families save for college in a tax-advantaged way. Your savings can be used toward qualified higher education expenses like tuition, fees, books, room and board, course-specific fees or supplies.

Saving made easy!

Maryland 529 has a webinar series to help demystify their college savings plans even further. It is free to attend and a spokesperson from Maryland 529 talks through all of your college savings questions. You can sign up for a session, or choose to send them to your loved ones so they are crystal clear how to give your child the gift education!

Do you need to start saving for college now?

YES, you do need to start saving for college now. The earlier you start the less you will have to save; so do yourself a favor and start now! Making this investment in your child’s future now increases in value. This image from Maryland 529 clearly shows the power of starting early.

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Image Source: Maryland529.com

With a MCIP account you can contribute as little as $25 a month and jump-start your child’s college savings. And you’re potentially eligible for tax benefits or a $250 contribution from the State of Maryland through the Save4College State Contribution Program.

What is the Save4College State Contribution Program?

This program is seriously making it a no-brainer to start saving for college! The Save4College State Contribution Program is designed to help low-to middle-income families in Maryland save money for college. If you open, or opened, a new MCIP account after December 31, 2016, file an application prior to June 1, 2018 and make at least the minimum contribution of $25 to the account, you may qualify for a $250 contribution from the State of Maryland.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • The beneficiary of the account must be a Maryland resident
  • Have Maryland taxable income meeting the following limits:
    • If you’re an individual your taxable income cannot exceed $112,500
    • As a couple, your taxable income cannot exceed $175,000
  • Your new MCIP account must have been opened after December 31, 2016.*.

That’s it!

How do you get your free money?

Based on your income, you must make the minimum contribution of $25, $100 or $250 between July 1 and November 1. If you open a new account and apply for the Save4College program they waive the initial contribution requirements, so you can open an account now and don’t have to make a contribution until later!

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Image Source: Maryland529.com

Once the account is open, your application is filed, you make your contribution and you are determined to be eligible, the State of Maryland will deposit $250 into your new MCIP account by December 31, 2018.

But don’t stop there!

You can continue to make monthly contributions to your new plan, while also adding in any birthday or holiday money your child may receive throughout the year. You can also reapply for a state contribution the following year regardless of whether you received a contribution this year or not. The MCIP account must still be active and the account holder must submit a new application between January 1 and June 1 of the given year. Priority will be given to account holders who didn’t receive a contribution the previous year.

If family members wish to contribute, Maryland 529 and T. Rowe Price have just made giving simple with their new online GoTuition gifting portal. MCIP account holders can sign up for a GoTuition profile online and send a secure link so that loved ones can contribute directly to a child’s savings account.

I challenge you to start saving now instead of later! You will thank yourself later for starting today and I know your little one will too!

Apply now and learn more about the Save4College State Contribution Program!

Please read the entire Enrollment Kit carefully before deciding to enroll. The Maryland College Investment Plan Disclosure Statement provides investment objectives, risks, expenses and costs, fees, and other information you should consider carefully before investing. If you or your beneficiary live outside of Maryland, you should compare Maryland 529 to any college savings program offered by your home state or your beneficiary’s home state, which may offer state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 plan.

*You must have had no existing accounts for the same account holder/beneficiary prior to December 31, 2016, or the account must have been closed for at least 24 months before re-opening after December 31, 2016.

 State Contributions are not guaranteed. The State funding for contributions is limited to (i) $5,000,000 in fiscal year 2018, (ii) $7,000,000 in fiscal year 2019, and (iii) $10,000,000 in fiscal year 2020 and each fiscal year thereafter. As with the entire State budget, the Maryland General Assembly has final approval. If resources are insufficient to fully fund all eligible accounts, Maryland 529 shall provide contributions in the order in which applications are received and give priority to applications of Account Holders who did not receive a State Contribution in any prior year. If you receive a State contribution for a beneficiary in a given year, you are not eligible in that year for the state income deduction for contributions that you made for that beneficiary. You should check with your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.