National 529 College Savings Plan Day is just around the corner. As the name suggests, the day is officially observed on 5/29 — May 29th.
While Memorial Day may be the bigger attraction, advisors should capitalize on “529 Day” to help their college-bound families prepare for the future.
Don’t miss this great opportunity to educate parents about one of life’s biggest investments.
As it turns out, the vast majority of Americans — a whopping 71 percent, according to an Edward Jones survey — don’t even know about 529 plans, much less understand how they help ease the cost of college.
If you find yourself in this statistic (or simply don’t know much about 529 plans), don’t worry. College planning is pervasively undervalued across the United States, even in the financial planning industry. At College Aid Pro™, we strive to help reverse that trend — especially as the cost of higher education continues to skyrocket.
To help you get started, here’s a brief overview of 529 plans (plus a few marketing ideas to help attract prospects and turn them into trusted clients):
How 529 Plans Work
To help your college-bound families, start by simply informing them about the savings power of 529 Plans.
Here’s what clients need to know:
The Origins of 529 Plans: Created in 1996, 529 Plans were designed for college planning purposes and derive their name after a section of IRS code.
The Benefits of 529 Plans: A 529 Plan is a state-sponsored investment account where money grows tax-deferred. So long as the funds are used for higher education expenses (at any accredited college or university worldwide), the money can also be withdrawn tax-free. Families can apply the funds to anything from textbooks and computers to tuition and room and board.
The Additional Perks of 529 Plans: As of recent tax code changes (made in 2018), 529 Plans can now be used to pay for K-12 private education. This has increased the importance of contributing to 529 Plans as early and often as possible.
Marketing Tip #1: Consider sending an email newsletter on or around 5/29, and let families know how much 529 Plans can help them save on education costs. Keep it short and sweet, and let them know how (relatively) easy it is to get started. If you can help demystify the technical jargon around 529 Plans and focus on their tax-deferred value, you’ll have succeeded.
Approaching The 529 “Marketplace”
Optionality is always attractive to customers. As an advisor, it’s important to let families know they have multiple choices in selecting the right 529 Plan.
If your client lives in Missouri, for example, they may think they’re limited to choosing 529 plans from within their state. Indeed, that may ultimately be the best decision for your college-bound family — as in this case, Missouri offers great income tax benefits for those contributing to in-state 529 plans.
However, college-bound families actually have far more latitude in the marketplace than they might believe. In fact, they can select and contribute to a state-sponsored 529 plan from any state in the country if they so choose. They can even elect to have multiple plans across multiple states.
There are also a number of states that offer additional tax incentives for opening a 529 Plan.
As of 2021, the following seven states offer “tax parity” for your contributions: Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana and Pennsylvania. Overall, a total of 34 states currently provide some form of income tax benefits. Click here to view the full list.
Ultimately, 529 plans remain a complex investment for the average consumer, and families will need your guidance to select the right plan.
With “National 529 College Savings Plan Day” in view, however, simply concentrate on broadcasting two core facts: that 529 plans are essential investments for college-bound families, and that they have significant freedom in selecting plans.
Marketing Tip #2: Use social media to publicize the importance of having a 529 saving plan. And be sure to mention the potential income tax benefits associated with opening an account.
Getting Families Involved
At College Aid Pro™, we take a two-pronged approach to helping advisors deliver expert college funding advice with confidence and ease.
While empowering advisors with our state-of-the-art tools, we also focus on educating college-bounding families themselves. That’s why we’ve created an amazing deliverable that gives families an aerial view of their financial situation.
We call this exciting resource the College Money Report.
Here’s how it works: interested families answer a brief FAQ with questions about their top schools, their gross earnings, and their household size.
We then compile this information, create a tailored report, and send it directly to their email.
Upon downloading the College Money Report, families receive a fully customized deliverable that reveals how much colleges think they can afford, that automatically calculates their EFC, and that provides net price estimates.
The report will also unlock access to a list of over 5,000 scholarships and grants, so your college-bound families will be able to stay engaged in the process as they broaden their search for financial aid.
The College Money Report has quickly become an irreplaceable lead acquisition tool for advisors. While making families more educated consumers, it empowers advisors to start the college planning conversation in a truly dynamic way.
Marketing Tip #3: Motivate your current and prospective clients to get involved in the college search scholarship process. Let them know there are thousands of scholarships available for application, and point them towards The College Money Report to learn more.
College planning can be overwhelming to parents and advisors alike.
While the higher education landscape is constantly evolving, however, the solution to college planning remains the same.
Welcome to College Aid Pro™ — the state-of-the-art software that helps you become an expert in the field and streamline the college planning experience in a profitable way.
In a matter of minutes, you can give parents comprehensive information and strategies that would otherwise take days to provide.
Want to check out a free demo? Click here to give it a try.