A college education is an investment that pays off. According to The College Board's annual report, Trends in College Pricing, median annual income for bachelor's degree recipients is 80 percent higher than median income for those with only a high school diploma. Over a lifetime that difference exceeds $1,000,000.
A 529 plan is a state-sponsored education savings program that allows an individual to save in a tax-deferred account to pay for a beneficiary's post-secondary education at any accredited school in the United States. Unlike Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, which excludes joint filers with adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) above $220,000 and single filers with AGIs above $110,000, there are no income restrictions on those contributing to the plan.
Even if you have not been able to save all the money you will need for college, several alternatives exist to assist you in making up the difference.
Financial aid comes in many shapes and sizes -- from scholarships and grants which do not need to be repaid, to federal loans which carry very favorable interest rates and terms. The following are a few of the most popular sources of financial assistance: