Patricia Roberts, COO of Gift of College
As a former college student who had to borrow thousands of dollars in student loans, Patricia Roberts is no stranger to the struggles and perils of student loan debt. But she turned her experience into a positive.
As an attorney well-versed with 529 college saving plans, Patricia successfully sent her child to college debt-free, so it has become her mission to help parents to do the same. Patricia wrote the book Route 529: A Parent’s Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans, an easy-to-understand guide for those considering 529 plans and other savings vehicles to prepare for higher education expenses.
She also supports employers of all sizes in offering education-related financial wellness benefits through her company, Gift of College.
Questions Answered Today:
What are 529 college saving plans?
Authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, 529 plans enable families to have tax-exempted designated savings and investment funds for higher education purposes. This system allows families to save and grow money for college tax-free, as long as they avoid using the money for something other than its intended educational purpose.
When is the best time to start a 529 college saving plan?
Patricia’s family started when her child was a baby. That baby has recently graduated from college debt-free. Patricia hugely attributes this achievement to their 529 plan, along with their other smart money decisions as a family.
The earlier parents can start a 529 plan, the better. But whether your kid is in daycare, primary school, middle school, high school, or even in college, it is never too late to open a 529 plan.
What’s special about 529 plans?
While there are lots of strategies to pay for college, Patricia believes that 529 plans are worth considering. Here are some advantages of 529 plans:
They’re not taxable investments, which means that they grow tax-free. If you use the money for its intended purpose—higher education—you’ll never have to pay taxes on the money or its growth.
Even better: Some states offer annual state tax deductions or credits based on your 529 plan investments.
Disclosure: Depending on your state of residence, there may be an in-state plan that offers tax and other benefits, which may include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors. Before investing in any state’s 529 plan, investors should consult a tax professional.
The account owner always maintains control over the account. Even if the recipient of the fund turns 18 or 21, it’s the account owner who retains full control over the money and makes decisions about when and how the money will be used. The account owner doesn’t have to be the student’s parents. It could be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.
They have low minimum deposits. You can open a 529 plan and have an initial deposit as low as $25 or less. Then you can continue to contribute in the future.
There are no income limits and no time limits.
529 plans are very flexible. They’re not limited to traditional colleges. 529 plans can be used for other forms of higher education such as:
- Trade and technical schools
- Cosmetology schools
- Culinary institutes
Further, 529 plans can also be used for school-related expenses such as:
- Tuitions and fees
- Books and supplies
- Room and board (off or on-campus)
The funds are transferable. If the original beneficiary fails to use the funds, they can be used by another family member, which can include first cousins, step/half siblings, aunts, uncles, or, in some cases, the original beneficiary’s child.
Disclosures: Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. This information and other important information are contained in the fund prospectuses, summary prospectuses, and the 529 product program description. These documents can be obtained from a financial professional or directly from a 529 plan’s website. Please read them carefully before investing.
What are some important things I need to know before investing in a 529 plan?
Like any other investments, there are also some things families need to look into before opening a 529 account:
If the money is spent for something unrelated to higher education, you’ll have to pay the tax that you didn’t pay while the account was growing in value. There will also be a 10% federal penalty on the earnings.
The 529 plan may impact towards your student’s federal financial aid. If the account owner is the parent, a maximum of 5.64% of the funds will be counted towards the family’s expected family contribution.
529 plans are not necessarily a savings account. Families should choose a plan depending on their objectives. If they want a safer path with low risk and returns, some plans have a savings account component. Most 529 plans are invested in the financial markets with the risk of either growth or loss.
How can Gift of College help me when working around 529 plans?
Patricia’s company, Gift of College, is a great platform to use if you already have or you’re thinking of opening a 529 account. Gift of College helps families in three ways:
1. They have a platform where a student can set up a Gift of College profile and gather “gifts” for special milestones like birthdays, graduations, holidays, etc. Patricia compares it to crowdfunding where a link can be shared to families and friends to directly send monetary gifts that will go straight to the student’s 529 college savings account.
2. They have gift cards (from $25 to $200) that are available at retailers all around the U.S. The person receiving this gift card must have a 529 plan to get the value of the gift card. Otherwise, they can’t use it.
Patricia thinks that this is a good way to encourage family and friends to set up a 529 account, or at least encourage them to look into 529 plans and their benefits.
3. They help employers offer 529 plans as an option for their employees. 65% of Americans are unfamiliar with 529 plans, so Gift of College offers their payroll deduction platform to partner with employers and encourage employees to use 529 plans as savings at work.
What are some college saving strategies I can use to get started with saving?
Patricia knew from her personal experience the struggles of incurring thousands of dollars in student loan debt, so she decided that she didn’t want her child to experience the same struggle. In order to do this, her family needed to be disciplined in handling money.
She wrote the book Route 529: A Parent’s Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans to help out parents like her save for college, but below are some simple strategies she shared:
- If you spend around $50 to $70 for diapers, then save that money once your child is potty trained.
- Once your child is in full-time school, reallocate the money you used to pay for daycare.
- Cut those cable channels you don’t watch and save the money instead.
- Do you really need to buy a new car while the old one is still working?
- Have an honest conversation with your student. It will be hard, but you have to be realistic with your family’s financial capability. Talk to your student about:
- Not being emotional about the “dream school”
- Thinking of the financial implications for the next 10-20 years
- Picking a school that makes them feel good but is also affordable
- Encourage family members/friends to send monetary gifts rather than materials that are easily unusable. Patricia notes that this benefits both parties. Shopping is not easy, after all.
Links and Resources
Helpful Articles and Resources
- Taming The High Cost Of College
- Route 529: A Parent’s Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans
- Patricia Robert’s Contact Info:
- Gift of College – Website
- Route 529 – Website
THANKS FOR JOINING US!
We’d like to extend an invitation to our listeners to share their feedback and questions. Contact us to submit a question.
If you find our podcasts helpful, please share us on social media and tell your friends!
The bottom line is that we care what you think and want to help you out, so we’d appreciate you reviewing us on your favorite podcast platform. Even better, receive automatic updates by subscribing to the show through your preferred podcast service.
Learn the basics of a 529 college savings plan and how to use gifts to fund them.
You have kids, they grow up and before you know it, it's time to plan for college. Where do you start? How much is it going to cost? Will you qualify for financial aid? Should you be looking into scholarship? When will you be able to retire? What about student loans? The list of questions is never ending. The good news is all the answers are right here. Welcome to the Taming the High Cost of College Podcast. Here is your host, certified financial planner, Brad Baldridge.
Hello, and welcome to Taming the High Cost of College. I'm your host Brad Baldridge. Today, we have an interview with Patricia Roberts, the COO of Gift of College. And in this episode, we're going to talk a lot about 529 plans. Now 529 plans have their positive and negative aspects. And there's some disclosures at the end of this episode that you need to listen to before you make any decisions around 529s. And there's certainly good things and bad things about 529s. In general, I think they have their place though. So in this interview, we're going to cover the basics of what 529 plans are. And then we're also going to talk about Patricia's company, Gift of College, and how her company is helping families and businesses give the gift of college by using gifting strategies to place money into a 529 for a student or a child, whether it's a child of an employee, or again child in the family. So instead of giving a bunch of gifts that the student may or may not need, you can actually give college money which again, anybody going to college will definitely need. As always show notes are available. And all the links that we talked about will be available in our show notes at tamingthehighcostofcollege.com/154. All right, let's go ahead and jump into the interview.
Today we're sitting down with Patricia Roberts. She is COO of Gift of College, and the author of Route 529, a book about college savings plans. And also mom, who recently had a college graduate. So welcome, Patricia.
Thank you for having me here today, Brad.
All right. So obviously you there's you've got a lot going on in the higher education and college space, both personally and professionally. So can you tell us a little bit more about how you got involved in all this and your journey so far?
Sure. So by way of background as a young person from a low income family, I almost missed the opportunity to attend college because of costs. And I was ultimately able to attend and obtain both an undergraduate and eventually a graduate degree while working multiple jobs, the graduate degree at night while working full time. But I took on a tremendous amount of educational debt, and had a lot of it on my hands when my son arrived. In fact, his father and I owed over $100,000 in student loan debt. So we've got the background of having come to this with a lot of debt. I also have the background of really appreciating the power of higher education, getting those degrees really enabled me to lift my family out of the situation they were in in terms of the way they were living, and to really create a brighter future for myself. So huge respect for the many doors that higher education can open. In terms of my professional experience with these plans. I was an attorney at Citigroup in the late 1990s At a time when they were interested in getting into the 529 arena. These plans have been around over 26 years. And every state except for Wyoming has a 529 plan. And many of the states hire an investment management firm, to manage the investments of the plan and to help run the program distributed through financial advisors, etc. Citi was interested in getting into this line of business and I learned about it as an attorney. I learned about section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. I happen to be pregnant with my son at that time. So it was an interesting assignment for me to receive. And having learned about it. I both helped Citi get two programs off the ground at the time. They won the mandate for both Illinois and Colorado and started working with those plans. And I was able to start saving for my own son because I had the knowledge of the plan. And as soon as I returned from that maternity leave, I opened a 529 account and I started contributing directly from my paycheck into it with the strongest desire that my son not wind up in the situation that his father and I were in with student loan debt. And really the rest is history, we started both his dad and I started putting small amounts into the 529 plan directly from our paycheck, the money never passed our hands. And by doing that, we really became quite disciplined. And over time, as we earned more money, and we eventually got those school loans paid off, we were able to contribute more and more and to invite friends and family to join us. And as you said, at the top of the broadcast here, I do have a son who has graduated from college, and he just graduated last June debt-free, largely due to our contributions to the 529 plan. And also due to our making some smart decisions as a family in terms of school choice. And what really worked for us in terms of net cost. Right, so lots of connections to this topic.
Right? Absolutely. So, of course, you also, as we mentioned, wrote a book, you know, Route 529, which talks about 529s. But I guess, before we move on, there's probably a number of listeners out there, they're saying, 'Man, you know, I understand that you save when you have a baby and that kind of stuff, but I've now got a 12 year old or a 15 year old, and I can't go back and get started when I should have perhaps.' I just want to make it clear that 529s work certainly when you have a baby as you demonstrate, but they also work when you know, you got to 15, or 17, or even a kid in college potentially.
That's correct, I feel strongly that it is never too late to get started with the saving process, especially for a goal, like higher education, I want parents to know that any amount that they can accumulate is that much less that their child's going to have to borrow and repay with interest. So no sense regretting that you didn't start sooner, just get started. And whatever you're able to accumulate is going to be helpful. And the more disciplined you can be, the more you can take a look at your current expenditures and see if there's any room to cut back, the greater the chance you will be, and being able to accumulate some funds that will be useful to your child. And, there's no need to worry about saving it all, I think most people don't do that. There are other ways. And I'm sure you talk to your listeners all the time about other ways to pay for higher education. But this is an important element to consider. And to not put off doing wherever you are in the process. Because time is valuable.
Right. As I've said often, there's lots of different ways to attack college. But one way to think about it is there's two steps to the process. One is figure out the right school at the right price, and you're trying to get that price as low as possible. And again, I'm not saying everybody go to the cheapest option, I'm saying, if this, find the school that has the best price, and meets your needs, and sometimes it might be the expensive school, but whatever it is, you try and get that price as low as you reasonably can just like when you shop around for a car, right, you're not going to find a $2 car, you're going to have to pay a certain amount. Once you figured out what that price you're gonna pay is, the next step is to pay that price efficiently. And that's where 529s fall is, they can be a very efficient way to pay whatever you're going to pay for college, whether it's full price at a state school, or half price at a public or at a private school, or whatever it might be. Most of the time the parents end up paying a portion, whether that's a few $1,000 or a few $100,000, the 529s, I think, can add a lot to it. So I guess let's jump into the very basics, then obviously, you wrote a book on Route 529, which talks about college savings plans. So what are the biggest benefits of the 529?
Right? Absolutely. So that's all the good news. So what's the bad news? I mean, what do we give up? What are some of the downsides of 529s?
Well, one issue that investors should consider is whether indeed, they believe the funds will be used for some form of higher education. So while you'll never lose the money, it always belongs to the account owner, you may have to pay. If you take the money out for some purpose that is not related to higher education, you will have to pay the tax that you, on the earnings, that you had not paid while the account was growing in value. Fair enough. You earmarked for this potential purpose, you didn't use it for that you're going to owe those taxes state and federal taxes. There is also a 10% federal penalty on the earnings only. So the tax is owed on the earnings only. And there's a federal penalty on the earnings only if you do not use this money for some form of higher education. What many families realize is that most young people pursue some form of higher education. Even those who don't, there may be a family member that can use the funds 529 under the Internal Revenue Code is pretty generous, it allows you to redirect those funds to another beneficiary who was a member of the family of the original beneficiary. And that goes all the way out to first cousins, it can be a step or half sister or brother, it could be an aunt or uncle that uses it. The parent if they happen to be the account owner can use it for their own adult learning. Or you can save it if your child's not using this money, you can save it for their children someday. So there's lots of flexibility if people are worried about not using the funds for higher education. There's lots of flexibility, but I think that's a consideration going into a 529 plan. The other there's a lot of myths about 529 plans because they're called college savings plans. People assume they're just for college. That's not true, and that they are a savings account. They are typically not a savings account. These dollars, typically, with most 529 plans, are invested in the financial markets. So there's certainly the possibility of growth and there's also the possibility of loss of funds depending on the performance of the financial market. Some 529 plans do have a savings component within them, you'll want to look carefully if that's your objective, that gives you a lot of safety, but not the potential of high returns, you're gonna get a much lower reward for having much less risk. But those are the things I would think about. Sometimes people are concerned about the impact on federal financial aid, by having savings earmarked for college. The reality is with 529 plans, as I said, the account owner controls the account, these are not considered the child's assets, they are considered assets of the account owner. And if the account owner is the parent, they count, only a maximum of 5.64% of that account value. So if you've saved $10,000, $564 of it, would be considered towards the expected family contribution. Whereas if you had money that was owned by the child, that's up to I think, 20%, or even more. So the pretty favorable in terms of federal financial aid treatment, there's always the possibility that a college looks at other criteria institutional aid, they can look at things like 529 plans and other assets as well. But I think the general wisdom is it's better to save than to necessarily be so concerned about the potential financial aid impact, particularly considering that financial aid is often largely comprised of student loans. So there is an impact. I consider it, fairly insignificant on the federal front, but it's something you do want to consider.
Right? Okay, so that's a, I think, a good basic overview of 529. So when I'm working with families, I would say 529s are used, you know, probably 80 or 90% of the time in some form, as we're building a plan for college. Often we pair them with other types of accounts, as well like a Roth IRA or other other pieces as well. But a lot of times the core is a 529. Not always, obviously, they have their benefits, they have their drawbacks. But I think every family needs to consider them as part of the plan, because they have a lot of great benefits. And again, if you don't get the tax benefits, and some of those things, you don't pay taxes, because in your situation, well, then you get tax benefits don't help if you don't pay taxes. So there are situations where they don't work as well. But again, they I think they fit in. So your company Gift of College is kind of an additional layer on top of the 529. So you can you tell us a little bit about how Gift of College works. You know, now that we understand 529s are good, and maybe parents or grandparents or whoever may want to get involved in 529s. Tell us about the Gift of College and how that fits in.
Sure. So Gift of College, giftofcollege.com is a platform through which individuals can set up a profile for themselves to indicate to others that they are on a mission to save for college. It's sort of like crowdfunding whereby you can set up a profile, enter in your information about the 529 plan to which you're saving, and share not the 529 plan information, but really a link to let people know for birthdays, holidays, other milestones and special occasions that you welcome contributions to the college savings account. So that's something that's special about Gift of College. I do want to mention many of the 529 plans themselves also have the ability for you to invite friends and family through their own functionality. So you don't necessarily need to use Gift of College. But it's a great way if your plan doesn't have it or if you want to supplement to what your 529 plan offers in terms of inviting others. It's a great way to do that. What's unique about Gift of College is we offer gift cards that can be purchased by friends and family and given to a potential student, a future student. Our gift cards start at $25 they go up to $200 in value. They're available at retailers around the US, soon to be at every CVS location. And individuals can buy those and give them to a future student for various occasions. So instead of asking someone to invite you to contribute to their 529 plan, individuals can give the gift card, I know I give them for every baby shower I attend. I'll buy a modest gift and I'll give a gift card and that gift card can be redeemed into any 529 college savings plan by going through Gift of College. So that's one part of our business, it's helping people save for college by making it convenient for them to invite others and by offering these gift cards
In retail and online
Right, and I think the key, or one of the key points is, if you use the Gift of College, the recipient doesn't have to already have a 529 plan, it might be the impetus to have them, investigate it and go start a 529 plan. So if you're an uncle or grandpa or something, and you want to give that subtle hint, you can give this card. And now mom and dad typically would need to go set up the account and put the money into the plan. And again, as you mentioned, you give it to everybody, and then we're certainly make sense. Again, if for strangers especially, it's like, you don't really want to start asking, again, not strangers, but someone that's not, you don't have intimate knowledge of I guess, is the way to say it, your colleague or something, you can give them the 529. And then they can go put the money where they want, they can invest it the way they want. They can choose the whatever plan they want. And they don't have to tell you anything about what they did, how they did it, which plan they chose, they don't have to send you any sort of links, they just get to go start the plan.
Yeah, and I liked that about the gift cards, it really can spoil the surprise, if you're poking around asking people are you saving for college, can I help in some way. If you could just give them the gift card, if they are saving both redeem it into what they're already saving. If they're not, there's really nothing else they can do with the gift card, they will start saving, because they will know that they can redeem it into a 529 plan once it's set up. They cannot cash out the value of it and use it for something else. So I like that aspect of it. And many people do tell me that they got started because of that gift card. And I don't only give them for baby showers I give them for every child's birthday that I can think of, with a smaller, sometimes even $1 store type gift. Because I know how expensive higher education can be and how helpful this gift will be to that child, whether they realize it or not right now, and to their parents more importantly. So that's that's another line of business, the platform, the gift cards, and then we work with employers of all sizes around the United States by encouraging them to offer education on 529 college savings plans to their employees. And to consider it's optional, but to consider matching employee contributions to these plans. Gift of College has a platform that's easy for employers and employees to use. And we're having some success with encouraging employers to help their employees get started with saving, believe it or not, 65% of Americans say they are unfamiliar with 529 college savings plans, they've obviously not been working with Brad, and they don't know what they are. And if they do know what they are, they don't really understand them. So this is a really valuable benefit for an employer to offer. Particularly during this great resignation, where people are scrambling and finding new jobs and looking for things that are more rewarding. It really is helpful to offer this type of benefits. So we're finding employers are interested in it. And their employees are used to getting started with savings at work. They're used to retirement savings, maybe healthcare savings accounts. They're used to getting information at work about how to save for various objectives. And they're very grateful to learn about saving for college. So that's really one of the biggest focuses of my day job, the business that I work with.
Right. Okay. Well, great. So that makes a lot of sense. As far as, again, if you happen to be a small employer, and you're looking for a benefit, and I think it's, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing it's a benefit. That's not quite so complicated. It's not like a 401k or providing life insurance or some of those other benefits where there's not as much paperwork, there's not as much rules as typical, it's more of a function of payroll versus a complicated purchase. Is that correct?
That's correct. Yeah, it's very easy to line up an employer's payroll system with ours and to facilitate payroll deductions. What's great is with our platform, the employee decides for themselves which 529 plan they want to put money into, if they want to. The employer is not in the situation of having to pick a particular 529 plan to offer employers who have employees in multiple states, and particularly with now, people more and more people working remotely. They tell us they don't want to be in a position of offering just one 529 plan because they don't know because of these disparate tax treatment scenarios, which one is right for all of their employees. So they like our platform because it takes the pressure off of the employer, and just allows the employee to decide for themselves which plan they want. And employers are using our payroll deduction platform. And they're also using our gift cards. Interestingly, we were seeing that our gift cards were flying off the shelf in certain retailers. And we learned indirectly that in some cases, employers were buying them. So now we have a way to sell from our website directly to employers in bulk. And how are they using our gift cards. They're using them to welcome a baby that's born into one of their employees families, rather than spending money on a silver spoon or a really expensive floral arrangement, which will soon die, they are giving a gift towards higher education. Some of them I just learned, are using my book as well. They're given the book and the gift card. So the book to teach people about how to do it and a gift card. They're also using them for rewards and recognition programs. I think over 70% of employers have some way that they're rewarding people for work milestones going above and beyond years of service, etc. And they often give gift cards. So rather than giving the more traditional gift cards, which are for rent restaurants, and I don't know, maybe even Amazon and things like that, they're starting to include Gift of College gift cards as something that an employee can select for themselves. And some of the employers who are doing that are saying that employees really appreciate having that as an option. Because when they get the gift card, they can use it towards a 529 plan. They can also use it to pay down student loan debt, or gift cards work for either purpose.
Right? Absolutely. All right. So as you mentioned, you've got your book out there. Can you tell us a little bit more about the book? As far as I mean, I do see it. It's here on Amazon. I'm assuming it's out there at other retailers. What's the, who should be reading the book? What is it about?
Can you give us some detail on that?
Absolutely. So the book is called Route 529: A Parent's Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans. It is available on Amazon and I believe at other retailers as well. I wrote this book in 2020. During the pandemic, I had extra time on my hands on unexpectedly as many of us did. And I kept hearing on the news about student loan debt. And in addition to the really bad news about this pandemic, I kept hearing about, people were struggling with repaying student loan debt, and they were going to start putting payments on hold, etc. And I thought, no one's talking about how to avoid the student loan debt. Everybody's talking about whether it should be forgiven or waived, or how much higher education is, but nobody's really talking about how to plan for it. So I thought, why don't I write a book, I've got this professional knowledge of over 24 years now. I've got a son who's about to be a senior in college who would soon be graduating debt free. Why don't I share a little bit about my personal experience and incorporate my professional expertise, but do so in a way that it was very easy to understand. I think people sometimes find financial instruments to be rather complicated, incorporate the Internal Revenue Code, people get even more confused. But I tried to write it in a way that was really understandable. I didn't omit any of the important details, but I tried to put it in language that I felt parents could easily understand. I have key takeaways at the end of each section. And it really is not just about 529 plans. It's really about finding a way to prepare for this important future goal. I do talk about other ways to save and I compare and contrast. I talk about the mindset that is very helpful when you're planning for something that's so long term. And I spend a lot of time talking about why it is important to invite friends and family to contribute if you possibly can. I'll give tips on for parents with younger children who you know sometimes feel like there's no extra money to spare. I'll talk to them about the fact that when the child gets out of diapers, you were spending 50, 60, 70 dollars a month on diapers and diaper and supplies, just take that money, celebrate the kids out of diapers, they're potty trained, take that money and put it in an account. I figure over 15 years, 16 years depending on when the child is potty trained, whether at age two, three, whatever the age is, you can save over $15,000 just by having done that. I talked to parents in the book about you know when daycare expenses go away because the kids now in full time school. Consider reallocating some of that money. Just different ways. I share my own personal experience. My family drives a 22 year old car. We never got a new car since our child was an infant, and why did we do that we didn't want to spend money on things we didn't need, the car's still running, we cut our cable expense when my son was in middle school, we were spending a lot of money on TV channels that we didn't watch, put that money in the 529. So I share some of my personal experiences. And I also share towards the end of the book, when you're close to reaching your destination, what are some strategies that can help you to avoid or minimize student loan debt. And I talked about the importance of really being honest with your child and yourself about what you can afford, and what type of debt you're comfortable taking on, and why those decisions are important. You know, running after that dream school emotionally. And not thinking of the financial implications for 10, maybe 20 years to come, is not always the best idea. It's important to sit down and really have some honest conversations, we did that with our son, he knew exactly what we had saved. He knew based on the different schools, he had gotten into what that would mean, we could cover a portion of something that was very expensive. Some of the schools four or five years ago were like $75,000, and he wasn't being offered any aid. So we looked at what the implications were we looked at if he went to a state school, what that would mean. And we looked at the school that he attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the merit scholarship that they offered him, he felt good about that school, as he did about a few of the others. But when he looked at the finances, and really thought it through, that was a school that was going to enable him to come out debt free. And it was the perfect combination of a school that felt good, and one that was affordable. But we didn't skirt those conversations. Those are hard conversations for families to have. But I talked about it in my book, because I think it's important, there's a lot of disappointment when those admissions letters start coming in. And you've never ever conferred with the people in your life closest to you about how you're going to cover those costs. So if it's not too late, if you're not already at that, I know it's admissions decision time right now, if you're not already there, start that conversation early if you're there now, really think about how you're going to plan this. There are other ways to go. In terms of getting a degree, there are a lot of quality schools. As Brad said earlier, if one feels like a good fit, and it happens to be more affordable, you think you're going to, your child is going to get the education they need there, that might be something you want to consider graduate on time, by all means. Far too many students are switching things up and they're in school five or six years that comes with additional cost. And certainly tell friends and family that you don't want any more gifts that are easily outgrown or discarded and to start putting money help you and your child on this mission to save for college because they'll do it, people don't know what to buy your kid. They are struggling with that shopping is not easy. In or out of a pandemic, it's stressful. If you can just give them the easy and smart idea of helping you out. Everybody wins with that.
Right? Absolutely. All right. So that was a good overview of the book. As mentioned, of course, it's certainly available at Amazon and where other books are available. I really do appreciate all the great information that you've given us. So where can we learn more if we want to get in contact with you or Gift of College's contact information, etc.
Sure. So giftofcollege.com, giftofcollege.com, is where I work. Our website has those gift cards that can be bought online. There's also a section of the website that can tell you where to find them and retail based on your zip code. If you prefer to go in person to a store and get one. We also have information for employers on how they can offer higher education benefits such as 529 plans and student loan repayment assistance. So that's one way in terms of myself personally, I have a website called route, route529.com. And I'm on Instagram at route, route529mom, I'm also very active on LinkedIn. You can find my name Patricia Roberts along with Gift of College, but I'm out there I'm on a mission to educate other parents. I want parents to know how good it can feel to plan ahead, at least to some extent. And I want people to understand the existence and usefulness of 529 plans. I think people are remiss if they don't at least look into this.
Right? Absolutely. And I think that's kind of one step that every family should take is to not only understand how 529 plans work, but also what's available in your particular state. And again, you may not use them you may have different ways to go but at least be aware of what it is that's available. So you can make an informed decision and some states now I'll just that kind of an aside, some states now are doing that similar thing where they're going to give you essentially a gift for getting started. So a few states are saying, if you set up an account for your recent newborn, then we're going to put automatically put some free money in there to get started, I'm seeing that pop up at a number of different states now. So yeah, again, the sooner you take advantage of it, the sooner it gets invested in, the longer it has to grow. So you can maybe get that same benefit for your 10 year old. And if you have a 10 year old, you probably should. But ideally, you do it as soon as possible. And do it now, whether it's a newborn, a 10 year old or an 18 year old for that matter, but just be aware that, this, what the states are offering is changing. Most states don't change that often, but between the 50 states, a couple of them change every year. And so it kind of try and stay on top of that, along with everything else you're dealing with college. So alright, well, thank you, Patricia. We'll stay in touch and it was a lot of great information.
My pleasure. Thanks for having me. And I hope this helps your audience out.
All right, that was a great interview with Patricia. As always, we can get our show notes at tamingthehighcostofcollege.com/154. And of course 529s have their benefits and they also have their downside, so pay attention and stay tuned for all the disclosures.
Thank you for listening to the taming the high cost of college podcast. Now it's time for you to take action head to taming the high cost of college.com for show notes, bonus content and to leave feedback for Brad. The next step on your college journey starts now. Brad Baldrige is a registered representative of Cambridge investment research and an investment advisor representative of Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, a registered investment advisor. Securities are offered through Cambridge Investment Research Incorporated, a broker dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC. Brad owns two companies, Baldrige Wealth Management and Baldrige College Solutions. The Baldridge companies are not affiliated with Cambridge Investment Research.
Disclosures. The information provided to you today is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be specific recommendations or advice. Please consult with a qualified professional before acting on any of this material. Investing involves risk. Depending on the types of investments, there may be varying degrees of risk. Investors should be prepared to bear loss including total loss of principal. 529 college savings plan disclosures. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. This information and other important information are contained in the fund prospectuses, summary prospectuses, and the 529 product program description. These documents can be obtained from financial professional or directly from the plans' website. Please read them carefully before investing. Depending on your state of residence, there may be an in state plan that offers tax and other benefits, which may include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors. Before investing in any state's 529 plan, investors should consult a tax professional. If withdrawals from 529 plans are used for purposes other than qualified education. That withdrawal could be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty, state penalties, federal income tax, and state income. Brad Baldridge's disclosures. Brad Baldridge is registered representative with Cambridge Investment Research. Securities are offered through Cambridge Investment Research Incorporated, a broker dealer, and member of FINRA and SIPC. Brad Baldridge is also an investment advisor representative with Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, a registered investment advisor. Baldridge Wealth Management and Baldridge College Solutions are affiliated. Cambridge and the Baldridge companies are not affiliated. The registered brand's location is at 10521 West Leighton Avenue, Suite 200, Greenfield, Wisconsin 53228.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.