You can save for college tax-free through a 529 plan. In New York, anyone can open a 529 through an initial $25 payment and make regular contributions for as little as $15. The money from this account can be withdrawn for tuition, housing, books and other college-related expenses. Many parents and grandparents open 529 accounts and invest thousands of dollars into these funds, but there are restrictions to keep in mind.
529s require a minimum initial investment and minimum payments afterward. The smallest initial investment is $25. Payroll contributions can be $15 after that, or $25 for other forms of contributions. These include scheduled direct deposit transactions, one-time online transactions or mail transactions.
Single Beneficiary Limits
529 plans in New York can reach a maximum balance of $375,000 per person, regardless of whether the person has one or multiple accounts. That means if John Doe’s parents open one account, and his grandmother opens another, the total limit of John's accounts cannot go over $375,000.
Earning Over the Limit
Even though you can only put in $375,000 per person and/or per account, your 529 balance may continue to grow based on your investments. New York offers over a dozen funds to choose from and three levels of investment based on risk. Your 529 plan will not limit balances; only your investment options will do that.
Open Your Own 529
You may open an additional 529 and name yourself as the beneficiary instead of your child. This is an option to save extra money for your child above the $375,000 limit. You can then gift part or all of that money to your child by rolling over the balance to his or her account in future tax years. Keep in mind that you may be subject to gift tax laws at that time.
You can contribute more than $375,000 to New York 529s if that money is designated for more than one potential college student. Only one beneficiary per account is allowed, but you may open as many accounts as you like.
The Out-of-State Option
Although New York limits contributions to its 529 plan, that doesn't mean you are limited to plans within New York state. All 50 states and the District of Columbia offer college savings programs as well, and you don't have to be a resident to enroll in them.
Andrea Kearns is an award-winning broadcast journalist whose work has aired across New York State. After nearly a decade of covering the events and people who make history, she is now sharing her knowledge and experience in the classroom as a high school history and government teacher.