Don’t let inflation keep you from saving for future education
By State Treasurer Randy McDaniel
published September 30, 2022
Everything costs more these days. Whether it’s fuel, meals at a restaurant or household supplies, inflation has us watching our budgets more closely and looking for ways to cut back while adjusting to the changing market.
Unfortunately, often one area usually reduced is savings, especially money set aside to save for future education expenses. When the cuts are made, people think they will make up for it later, but often do not. I encourage Oklahoma families to continue planning for the future despite the present challenges. It’s a cliché, but slow and steady can lead to winning the financial race.
With October being Financial Planning Month, there’s no better time for families to evaluate their financial wellness and set goals. One question often asked during the process is what type of account should be used to save for education expenses. My answer is simple – Oklahoma 529, which is a flexible and tax-advantaged way for Oklahoma families to save. With the rising cost of tuition, it’s more important than ever to have access to smart financial options that will help pay for the cost of a quality education.
Oklahoma 529 is one of the top-performing 529 plans in the nation, as recognized by industry website Savingforcollege.com, ranking 11th in the second quarter of 2022 in the one-year performance category.1
It takes as little as $25 to start an Oklahoma 529 account and contributions can be made at any time. Oklahoma 529 has a number of investment options available that empower Oklahoma families to choose an approach based on the family’s level of risk tolerance and time horizon.2 The Guaranteed Option provides a stable return. The Risk-Based Option offers growth investors diversification. The Enrollment Year Option is customized to fit the year your loved one enters higher education.
When the time arrives, money from an Oklahoma 529 account can be used for more than just college expenses, which is a big reason we recently rebranded the Plan as simply “Oklahoma 529.” Recent expansion of the Plan’s uses enables parents to use the funds for tuition and fees at Oklahoma CareerTech Centers as well as K-12 tuition up to $10,000 annually per student. Additionally, Oklahoma 529 funds can be used toward expenses associated with apprenticeships, concurrent enrollment and student loan repayment.3
According to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, during the next 10 years, 70 percent of jobs in Oklahoma will require some level of education or training beyond a high school diploma4 – and people who hold an associate’s and/or bachelor’s degree earn a median income 25 percent and 75 percent higher, respectively, than those with only a high school diploma.5
Whether a loved one is preparing for vocational training or a college degree, Oklahoma 529 can help them achieve their goals and dreams and the best time to start planning for their future is now.
Randy McDaniel is the 19th State Treasurer of Oklahoma, having served since January 2019. He is the chairman of the Oklahoma 529 Board of Trustees.
- 2To learn more about the Oklahoma 529, its investment objectives, tax benefits, risks and costs, please see the Plan Description at oklahoma529.com. Read it carefully. Check with your home state to learn if it offers tax or other benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds or protection from creditors for investing in its own 529 plan. Investments in the Plan are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is the risk of investment loss. If the funds aren't used for qualified higher education expenses, a federal 10% penalty tax on earnings (as well as federal and state income taxes) may apply. Consult your legal or tax professional for tax advice. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Member FINRA, distributor and underwriter for the Oklahoma 529.Neither TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., nor its affiliates, are responsible for the content found on any external website links contained herein.↩
- 3Withdrawals for tuition expenses at a public, private or religious elementary, middle, or high school, registered apprenticeship programs, and student loans can be withdrawn free from federal and Oklahoma income tax. If you are not an Oklahoma taxpayer, these withdrawals may include recapture of tax deduction, state income tax as well as penalties. You should talk to a qualified professional about how tax provisions affect your circumstances. K-12 withdrawals are limited to $10,000 per year for K-12 tuition. Student loan repayment subject to a lifetime limit of $10,000 per individual when using a 529 plan. Apprenticeship programs must be registered and certified with the Secretary of Labor under the National Apprenticeship Act.↩