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529 Accounts and& Financial Aid

Learn how 529 plans can
affect financial aid

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When your student is ready for college and you apply for financial aid, you'll be asked to list your assets—including your 529 account balance—on the financial aid application.

How 529 Accounts Affect Financial Aid

To be eligible for federal financial aid (including grants and federal student loans), you’ll need to submit a Federal Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will ask you to report the assets held in a 529 account for your dependent student.

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A 529 account owned by the parent, with the student as beneficiary, will have a much lower impact on financial aid than another type of account held in the student’s name.

In making decisions about eligibility for federal financial aid programs, the U.S. Department of Education takes into consideration a variety of factors, including the assets owned by the student and the assets owned by the student's parents. They generally expect the student to spend a substantially larger portion of his or her own assets on educational expenses than you, the parents. It’s important to know how these assets can affect financial eligibility.

529 Plans and Federal Financial Aid1


Assets held in the parent's name are considered at a rate up to 5.64% (the highest rate on a tiered scale) when determining eligibility for financial aid; 529 accounts held by the parent with the child as a beneficiary are considered parental assets.


Assets held in the student's name are considered at a rate of 20% when determining eligibility for financial aid.

Assets and income are disclosed on the FAFSA and though some assets are exempt from the calculation, savings, investments, business interests, and real estate holdings are considered in the calculation.

529 Plans and State or Non-Federal Financial Aid

  • Assets may be treated similarly or differently from federal financial aid, but each state has its own rules.
  • Check with your state of residence to determine the requirements.

Get Financial Aid for College

FAFSA is used to put together your financial aid package, including grants, work-study, federal student loans, and even state and school financial aid.

Learn more about FAFSA on SallieMae.com


Cash Back Earnings Can Feed Your 529 Account.

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We use Upromise when making travel reservations and shopping to help build up our children's 529s.

- Janet T., Upromise member

1 Based on the 2016-2017 Expected Family Contribution formula.

Before investing in any 529 plan, please consider whether your or the designated beneficiary's home state offers its taxpayers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in that state’s qualified tuition program. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information are included in each 529 plan's offering statement; please read and consider it carefully before investing in a 529 plan.

When you invest in a 529 plan, you are purchasing municipal securities whose value may vary based on market conditions. Investment returns are not guaranteed, and you could lose money by investing in a 529 plan. Account owners assume all investment risks as well as responsibility for any federal and state tax consequences.