When Maddy was born, we received a lot of parenting advice.
She needs to sleep with you. . . . and She definitely shouldn’t sleep with you.
Babies must be nursed exclusively for the first year. . . . . and Babies must have rice cereal by six months.
She needs to cry it out on her own so that she doesn’t become a spoiled child. . . . . and Babies must be picked up every, single time they cry so that they know they’re loved.
Some advice was appreciated, and, well. . . some was not.
Over and over, we asked ourselves: How do we know what to believe? One person we trust says one thing, and another person we trust tells us the total opposite.
It was nuts. We felt like we were going nuts.
And we are like many people I know. We were typical, nervous, first-time parents. We held our breath as we drove the whopping 1.1 mile from the hospital to our townhouse, and we stared wide-eyed at each other the minute we walked in the door. What. Do. We. Do. Now?
So much was uncertain. So much we didn’t know, and so much we wouldn’t know until we experienced it.
Parenting was the ultimate trial by fire. Parenting is the ultimate trial by fire.
It is a hard gig.
Just yesterday, we were teaching our kids to talk, walk, and ride a bike, and it seems like tomorrow–or for our family, next year–they’ll be running from class to class at high school.
I still cannot believe it.
So much is uncertain. So much we don’t know and we won’t know until we’re there.
But there’s one thing that everyone agreed on way back when we had three little ones running around the house and we were drowning in diapers and bottles.
There’s one piece of advice that every, single person gave us without hesitation: we needed to start saving for college now.
And, friends, that’s what we did.
We opened a Maryland 529 Plan (it was called College Savings Plans of Maryland back then) for each of our three kids soon after they were born.
And though we were not putting away big bucks each month–goodness knows we didn’t have big bucks to put away–we were putting away something for them.
Does the idea of putting money away for your kids’ college tuition totally make you want to run and hide? If so, I get it. But listen–
It’s not scary, and it’s not too complicated.
And if we can do it, anyone can do it.
Saving for your children’s post-high school education is something parents should definitely look into, no matter how old their kids are right now.
I’m thrilled to be working with Maryland 529 to share with you a bit about these plans and how they can help your family.
Here’s the skinny. . .
How We Are Saving for Our Kids’ College and How You Can, Too —
We use a Maryland 529 Plan to save for our children’s college education. Within Maryland 529, there are two different Plans to explore: the Maryland Prepaid College Trust and the Maryland College Investment Plan.
You can choose to enroll for one Plan or both Plans. It’s up to you.
(And FYI: just because ‘Maryland’ is in the title, doesn’t mean you must use your savings at a Maryland college for either of the Plans! See below for more–)
Here’s what you need to know:
Maryland Prepaid College Trust
- This Plan lets you lock in tomorrow’s tuition at today’s prices, and it is backed by a Maryland Legislative Guarantee.
- Enrollment is normally open between December and early April of each year. This year enrollment has been extended until May 31st! Enrollment is open to children from newborn through 12th grade.
- Use to pay the full in-state or in-county tuition and mandatory fees at any Maryland public college or up to the Weighted Average Tuition toward nearly any private or out-of-state college.
- There are many different payment options, and you can select the one that’s right for your family budget.
Now, take a look at a slightly different approach:
Maryland College Investment Plan
- This Plan allows you to choose from a variety of investment options, so your investment return and principal value will vary, depending on the investment option you choose.
- Enrollment is open to children and adults of any age, and you can enroll at any time!
- Use at nearly any public, private, or technical college nationwide for any eligible higher education expenses such as tuition, fees, room and board, books, course-specific fees or supplies.
- You can start with as little as $25 per month, per portfolio through automatic monthly contributions or with a $250 minimum initial investment per portfolio.
Some people choose to go with both Plans.
Why would they go with both? Choosing both Plans allows you to grab features of each Plan and lets you diversify your higher education savings. You could use the Prepaid College Trust towards tuition and mandatory fees and the College Investment Plan towards room and board, books, or additional tuition at private or out-of-state colleges. By investing in both Plans, you may also be eligible for an additional Maryland State income deduction. Any earnings are Maryland tax-free and federally tax-free when used toward eligible college expenses.
Still need more information?
Take a look at these helpful resources:
- The Maryland 529 Plan Comparison — Very helpful chart, especially for the visual learners in the mix.
- Maryland Prepaid College Trust — Definitely check out some of this Plan’s Features and Benefits
- Prices of the Maryland Prepaid College Trust
- Tools & Resources — Want to attend a webinar or upcoming event to learn more?
Once you figure out what works for your family, you set it up and check it whenever you’d like. (At least that’s what we do!)
And I’d love to know what you think. Are you using a Maryland 529 Plan to save for college? If so, which one?
FYI: This post is written as part of a partnership with Maryland 529, an independent, non-profit State agency that provides flexible and affordable 529 plans to help Maryland families save for college expenses and reduce dependence on student loans. As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.
Please read the entire Enrollment Kit carefully before deciding to enroll. The Maryland Prepaid College Trust and Maryland College Investment Plan Disclosure Statements provide investment objectives, risks, expenses and costs, fees, and other information you should consider carefully before investing. If you or your beneficiary live outside of Maryland, you should compare Maryland 529 to any college savings program offered by your home state or your beneficiary’s home state, which may offer state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 plan. Tax benefits may be conditioned on meeting certain requirements, such as residency, purpose for or timing of distributions, or other factors, as applicable. T. Rowe Price Investment Services, Inc., Distributor/Underwriter, Maryland College Investment Plan.