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529 Education Gifting Programs Make Holidays Easy for Families and Friends

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Washington, DC, November 14, 2019 – As the holiday giving season approaches, 529 Education Gifting Programs and their widening array of online gifting tools, crowdfunding platforms, e-gift cards and downloadable gift certificates, are making higher education savings easier for parents, family members and friends, say members of the College Savings Foundation.   
“With student loan debt soaring to $1.6-trillion, saving for a child’s higher education is climbing to the top of the wish list for many parents.  529 education gifting tools offer a streamlined solution by helping family and friends to save – and also feel good about reducing the child’s future need for debt,” said CSF Chair Richard J. Polimeni.  
Among CSF members’ offerings are personalized websites for crowdfunding, online registries, electronic or physical gift cards purchasable online or at national retail and grocery chains, and downloadable gift certificates.  Links and special features are included in this Infographic
The holidays prompt a spike in 529 education gifting contributions – although increasingly they are also being used for New Year’s Resolutions, birthdays, graduations and special occasions throughout the year.  Numerous CSF members report robust year-over-year growth in their gifting program contributions. 
One benefit of online gifting is that parents can include a link to a child’s customized 529 education savings platform in an e-birthday invitation or social media site.  New CSF data from its State of College Savings survey show that only one in five parents say they already ask friends or family members to make a 529 college savings contribution rather than a material gift.  However, when it came to making their own education savings gifts, one third (33%) of parents said they use either 529 college savings plan gift registries or online gifting tools.
“By sharing a link to a child’s 529 savings plan, a family can spread the word about these savings tools and let their friends decide.  It’s an increasingly popular way to empower their broader network to participate in a child’s financial and educational future,” Polimeni said.
CSF members have implemented ways to make gifting easier: 
  • At Virginia529 family and friends can access a Gift Center for digital gift cards, get co-branded gift cards available at Walmart.com or participating Target or H.E.B. Grocery locations, or download gift certificates for a variety of occasions from its website.
  • GiftofCollege.com offers a range of options (which can be used with any 529 plan) including electronic or physical gift cards purchasable online or at retailers (such as select Target, Barnes & Noble, Brookshire Brother’s, Fred's Pharmacy, Cumberland Farms, Kinney Drugs, H-E-B, Save Mart, Foodmaxx, and Lucky Supermarkets). Employers can purchase Gift of College gift cards in bulk to reward/recognize employees and to celebrate employee births and other milestones.
  • Nebraska’s NEST 529 Direct and Advisor College Savings Plans offer access to Ugift as well as a downloadable greeting card and gift contribution coupon.
  • Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Program is launching a Ugift® crowdfunding capability in mid-December.  
  • Indiana’s CollegeChoice 529 plan owners can share a Ugfit code with friends and family so they can “give a gift that won’t be outgrown.”
Additionally, other CSF member gifting programs have experienced robust growth: 
  • Alaska 529 or T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan account holders can set up a gifting portal to share with friends and family by email or social media. They have seen a 172% increase in gifting into Alaska 529 accounts and 250% increase in gifting into T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan accounts.
  • Fidelity-managed gifting programs have soared in popularity (UNIQUE College Investing Plan, MEFA U. Fund College Investing Plan, Fidelity Arizona College Savings Plan and Delaware College Investing Plan) together experiencing 76% growth in online contributions.
  • My529’s gifting program has seen a 25% increase over the last year.  Friends and family can contribute with the gift code accessed through gift.my529.org or by writing the code in the memo section of a check.
  • ScholarShare 529, California’s official college savings plan, allows account holders to establish a gifting portal profile and share it with friends and family by email or social media. ScholarShare 529 has experienced a 25% Year-Over-Year increase in gifting.
The College Savings Foundation (CSF) is a Washington, D.C.- based not-for-profit organization helping American families achieve their education savings goals.  


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