New app helps families with college savings
Published 6:05 pm Monday, February 6, 2012
With New Year’s resolutions at the top of the mind, and tax time just around the corner, financial planning is a topic that is on the minds of many Georgia families right now. And, thanks to a new smartphone application, along with other online tools, saving for college just got a bit easier for Georgians.
TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., which manages Georgia’s Path2College 529 Plan, has released a smartphone application that allows account holders of Georgia’s 529 college savings plan to easily access and manage their accounts. The application, Saving4College, also provides account holders with the opportunity to calculate their college savings needs and potential tax savings on-the-go.
“Whether someone wants to know the estimated cost of college tuition in 18 years, how much they need to invest each year for their child’s future college expenses, or their projected savings if they begin saving today, this new application can help provide answers,” said Mitch Seabaugh, Georgia’s deputy treasurer, who oversees the Path2College 529 Plan. “But more importantly, the launch of the mobile optimized application provides parents, grandparents and guardians with an easy route to check the status and progress of their loved one’s college savings accounts just by using their smartphones.”
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Seabaugh said that online management of accounts and communication with account holders through online tools has skyrocketed in the past few years. He said that social tools like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the Path2College website, www.path2college529.com, have proved to be invaluable.
“Online communication is a great way to reach and inform current and potential account holders on the importance of saving early for future college expenses. Expanding this service to allow people to have better access to their Path2College 529 Plan accounts via smartphones was the next logical step,” said Seabaugh. “And, with just a over two months left to make contributions that can benefit 2011 tax returns, this is the ideal time for people to take advantage of this new tool to start or boost their college savings accounts.”
The new smartphone-enabled website allows a Path2College 529 Plan account holder to manage his or her account at the tip of a finger just by entering his or her existing account username and password. They can view their account summaries and recent transactions, make contributions, change their investment options, and even withdrawal funds from their accounts.
TIAA-CREF has designed the Saving4College application to provide Path2College 529 Plan account holders with an opportunity to calculate their college saving goals and predict future costs and investments through the College Savings Planner. The College Savings Planner allows users to determine their projected college savings based on their current balance and contributions, the projected costs of college tuition to match a specific timeframe, and what will be needed to meet those projected costs.
“Through the College Savings Planner, a parent can set up a realistic, achievable savings plan that will help cover the costs of his or her child’s future college expenses,” said Seabaugh. “Whether in the grocery store, at the local park or at a sporting event, a parent can check and manage his or her child’s college savings account anytime, anywhere.”
Seabaugh expects the application to take off in Georgia during tax season as people look to make contributions to plans before the April 17 tax deadline. Georgia taxpayers can receive a state income tax deduction of up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, regardless of their annual income. Georgia taxpayers are not required to itemize deductions to make this adjustment to income. The tax deduction is available for contributions to new accounts or to existing accounts.
To learn more about Path2College 529 Plan’s smartphone application or how to open a Path2College 529 college savings account, call 877-424-4377 or visit www.path2college529.com (click on “Get our Saving4College smartphone app” or “New! Manage your account on your smartphone”).