Frequently Asked Questions
Realizing your child's college goals can raise a lot of questions. Below are answers to the questions asked most often.
It's a tax-advantaged way for families to save money for education-related expenses. The "529" refers to the section of the Internal Revenue Code that created these plans.
It's a 529 plan offered by the Education Trust of Alaska and managed by the investment firm T. Rowe Price.
There are many benefits of the UA College Savings Plan:
- A low minimum investment—you can start with as little as $25/month.
- Your and/or your child's PFD can be used to fund an account.
- Earnings are tax-deferred and distributions are federal tax-free.
- No annual account fee.
- University of Alaska Portfolio carries a tuition value guarantee.
- Participants with an active account for two or more years may be eligible for resident tuition rates at the University of Alaska without regard to residency.
- No income restrictions.
- A variety of no load and no commission investment options.
- Gift and Estate Tax benefits.
- Account holders choose how and when funds are used.
- Professional investment management by T. Rowe Price.
- Receive gifts with the GoTuition® gifting portal, a convenient way for friends and family to give online.
- Stay on track with your child's academic progress and savings goals with the Education Planning Center.
Any U.S. citizen with a U.S. address or resident alien with a U.S. address can open an account, and so can trusts, corporations, and other organizations. There are no income limitations or age restrictions.
You can start with as little as $25 if you enroll in our Automatic Monthly Contributions program or if you want to get started with a one-time minimum contribution.
You can complete your application online anytime. You just need your beneficiary's social security number and your investment selection for the account to get started now. Also, you can download the forms, complete them, and mail them to us. In addition, you can open an account through your PFD application or over the phone by calling us at 1-866-277-1005.
Only one person—referred to as the account holder—can open and control an account. If the account holder is a minor, a custodian must act on the minor's behalf. Each account may have only one beneficiary (future student), but you can open as many accounts for as many beneficiaries as you want.
Any U.S. citizen or resident alien, including the account holder, can be a beneficiary. The beneficiary must be an individual, not a trust or corporation. There are no income limitations or age restrictions. In fact, if you're thinking of going back to school, you can even open an account for yourself!
That answer varies from school to school. Typically, 529 plans aren't treated as an asset of the student. Any investments, however, may affect eligibility for need-based aid. Check with the schools you're considering to learn what their guidelines are.
- The account holder maintains control over the account.
- Any account growth is tax-deferred.
- Distributions are exempt from federal income tax when used for qualified education expenses.
- It's possible to make a larger one-time contribution without incurring the federal gift tax.
Please note that the availability of tax or other benefits may be conditioned on meeting certain requirements such as residency, purpose for or timing of distributions, or other factors as applicable.
You don't have to be an Alaska resident to participate, so you can continue to maintain your account and make contributions no matter where you live. And, if you participate in the plan for two years, you may be eligible to receive resident tuition rates at the University of Alaska, even though you've moved out of state.
GoTuition® Gifting Portal
For Account Holders
Yes. With the UA College Savings Plan you have the added benefit of enrolling in the GoTuition® gifting portal. It’s a simple way friends and family can turn traditional gift giving into the gift of an education and help you reach your college savings goals.
The GoTuition® gifting portal is an online gifting tool in which an account holder creates a gifting profile for their beneficiary that can be shared with friends and family and enables you to receive gifts directly to your beneficiary’s UA College Savings Plan account.
No. GoTuition® gifting portal is a value-add service for UA College Savings Plan account holders. There are no fees assessed for using the gifting portal or towards any gift contributions given through the portal by gifters.
To get started, log into your UA College Savings Plan account. Click the GoTuition® gifting portal link and follow the instructions to sign up, which include accepting the Terms and Conditions. From there you can create your personalized gifting profile for one or more of your beneficiaries and share the link with family and friends through social media, email, text, evites, or even on printed invitations.
Yes, if you would like contributions to go into multiple beneficiary accounts you would need to establish a gifting profile for each beneficiary. Each beneficiary will have their own personalized gifting link. No matter how often you update their profile page, the URL will remain constant and never expire.
Your beneficiary’s gifting profile welcome message can be customized based on what you would like to say about your child. Some ideas include mentioning your child’s age, grade, or even dreams or aspirations about what they want to be when they grow up. Have a special event or holiday coming up? Highlight that event and share with friends and family so they know just what to give your child. Remember you can change your profile as often as you like which includes updating the message as your child grows or for different times of the year that you would ask for gifts.
You can only sign up for GoTuition® gifts to be allocated to one portfolio at a time. You can easily change which portfolio the gift contribution is directed through your GoTuition dashboard.
You can share the URL for your beneficiary’s gifting profile URL however you wish. There are links that quickly help you share with Facebook, Twitter, or via email, but you can also copy and paste the URL into text messages and include on evites and printed invitations.
Looking for the right thing to say? Below are a few sample Facebook and Twitter posts that you can use to help make asking for a gift easier:
Sample Facebook Posts:
- Help [Beneficiary Name] fulfill his/her dream of being a(n) [Career Aspiration]! Give a GoTuition® gift to his/her college savings plan today!
- We are saving for [Beneficiary Name]’s future. Consider giving the gift of education to help us send him/her to college.
- For [Beneficiary Name]’s [Birthday/Holiday/Event] please consider giving him/her a GoTuition® gift to his/her UA College Savings Plan.
Sample Twitter Posts:
- [Beneficiary Name] wants to be a(n) [Career Aspiration]! Consider a #GoTuition gift to their college savings plan.
- We are saving for college with a UA College Savings Plan account. Consider a #GoTuition gift for [Beneficiary Name] today.
- For [Beneficiary Name]’s [Birthday/Holiday/Event] give the gift of education. Click to give a #GoTuition gift.
We take your security very seriously. The URL you provide does not disclose any account information. The link is the only way a Gifter can access your beneficiary’s profile and contribute the gift into the account you have designated within your gifting profile.
Confirmations will be sent for each gift based on the desired delivery selection (i.e. paperless or regular mail) you’ve indicated on your account. Confirmations are mailed the following business day that the gift was contributed to your account. Please note that if you have not opted in for paperless, it will be subject to U.S. mail delivery times.
Gifts contributions will be posted immediately to your Gift History page which shows both completed and pending gifts. To view this page, log into your UA College Savings Plan account and select “View Dashboard” from the GoTuition® gifting tile. From your dashboard, you will be able to select “View Gift History” under the gift total to see list of all gifts received including gifter name, amount of gift, and date given. You can also see GoTuition gift contributions listed in My Accounts under transaction history. The gift contributions will specifically be labeled with a “GoTuition” transaction type.
Yes, if you choose to suspend gifting for whatever reason, navigate to your GoTuition® dashboard in My Accounts and toggle the on/off switch for that particular beneficiary.
For Gift Givers
The gift submittal process is simple and easy to follow. Once you receive a link to the beneficiary’s gifting profile, enter your personal banking credentials using our secure banking process, and select the account that the gift will be contributed from. None of your banking information will be stored. Next provide an email address to receive a gift notification, enter the gift amount, and hit submit.
The minimum gift is $25, while the maximum one-time gift you can send is $100,000. If the total amount you’ve given during the year for a particular beneficiary exceeds the federal gift tax exclusion limit, you may be subject to a federal gift tax (although 529 plans do permit a taxpayer to average larger gifts out over future years up to five years). Please consult with your tax advisor to discuss your specific situation.
In order to send gifts via the GoTuition® gifting portal, you must have an active bank listed in the bank validation system. If your bank is not listed, you will need to submit the gift via a Gift Contribution Slip at this time. New banks are continuously being added, so check back. Your bank may have been added.
During the gift submittal process you will have the opportunity to provide your email address. A gift notification email will be sent to that email address confirming the gift has been sent. It will take anywhere from three to five business days for the gift to clear your bank.
The account holder will receive a confirmation approximately one to three days following receipt of the gift. If you would like the gift recipient to be aware of the gift ahead of that timeframe, or just would like a gift announcement to deliver to the recipient personally, please feel free to use one of our gift cards.
No, only one gift contribution per beneficiary can be made at a time. To make additional gift contributions in the future simply save the URL and use it again as needed.
Education Planning Center
For Account Holders
The Education Planning Center is an online tool that makes it easy to see if you're on track with your savings goals. It provides personalized, age-specific passports from birth to graduation, and information on financial aid, scholarships, and grants.
Education Planning Center helps you:
- Compare the costs of different schools with the Family Financial Center and track your progress toward meeting your savings goals.
- Use powerful search engines to find schools and scholarships that best fit your child's interests and academic profile.
- Receive grade-specific, step-by-step guidance from birth to graduation with passports tailored to the age of your child.
- Stay on track with outbound email reminders for admissions and scholarships, ensuring no one misses a critical deadline.
It's never too early or late to get started with the Education Planning center, a passport to education from crawlers to scholars.
To get started, log in to your UA College Savings Plan account. Click on the Education Planning Center tile and follow the instructions to sign up.
No. The Education Planning Center is a free service for UA College Savings Plan account holders.
For questions regarding the Education Planning Center, please select the Help button in the lower right hand corner of the portal and provide your name and email and area of concern or assistance that is needed. A member of the support team will reach out to you within 24-48 hours.
- By check. Credit cards and checks drawn on lines of credit are not accepted.
- By electronic transfer, such as a wire transfer from your bank.
- Through Automatic Monthly Contributions—regular monthly deductions from your checking or savings account.
- Through your PFD, by answering "Yes" to the Alaska 529 question on your application.
- By automatic payroll deduction.
- By rolling over funds from another 529 plan, a Coverdell Education Savings Account, or a qualified U.S. Savings Bond.
Total combined contributions for any one beneficiary can go up to $475,000. Please note that it's okay for earnings to take your total account balance over that amount. The maximum contribution may or may not cover all college expenses.
Yes. You may automatically contribute half of a PFD by answering "Yes" to the Alaska 529 question when completing your PFD application. All PFD recipients who contribute through this process become eligible for the $25,000 Scholarship Account Giveaway.
To contribute the other half of your PFD, complete and mail in the PFD Direct Deposit Form, prior to completing the PFD application. Then, when you fill out your PFD application, answer “Yes” to contribute the first half of your PFD. To contribute the second half, enter the routing and account number provided on the PFD Direct Deposit Form into the direct deposit section of your PFD application. After completing this process once, the second half of the PFD will go into the college savings account every year, or until you change your direct deposit information.
Yes. Half of anyone's PFD can be contributed automatically. They should start by answering "Yes" on their PFD application. When the PFD applicant receives notification from us confirming the upcoming PFD contribution, he or she should send a letter of instruction directing us to place the PFD contribution in the proper account. The letter must include the appropriate SSN as well as your account number and portfolio name. For each ensuing year a PFD is received, it will automatically be invested in the account unless we receive other instructions.
Yes. Rollovers between 529 plans for the same beneficiary are limited to one transfer every 12 months, but there is no restriction on the frequency of rollovers between 529 plans if the beneficiary is changed to another family member in the process of rollovers.
Assets may also be moved from an UGMA/UTMA account to a 529 account; however, you will not be permitted to change your existing beneficiary to a new beneficiary. Your 529 account will be set up with the minor as the account holder and beneficiary, and subsequent changes restricted. Also, the distribution from an UGMA/UTMA may be subject to taxes.
Yes, you can move money at any time during your Upromise membership. You must send a letter requesting to withdraw contributions from your Upromise account. Your letter must include your full name and the exact amount you intend to withdraw (up to your total Upromise balance). Pending contributions are not eligible.
If your withdrawal request is more than $200, Upromise requires a Signature Guarantee certifying that your signature is genuine. Your bank can usually provide one. Withdrawal letters should be sent to:
ATTN: Customer Care
P.O. Box 55555
Boston, MA 02205-5555
Since checks are mailed every calendar quarter, you should receive your Upromise funds within 12 weeks.
*This information is provided as a service to our Web site visitors. The UA College Savings Plan is not affiliated with, does not endorse, and is not endorsed by Upromise.
You can take a distribution from your account anytime but if you have a payment deadline, you should request your distribution at least two weeks before your payment deadline to ensure there is adequate time for us to process and mail your distribution.
Only the person authorized to act (usually the account holder) can request a distribution.
No, you do not. However, you should keep your receipts to substantiate your expenses to the IRS.
Yes. Distributions for K-12 tuition expenses are limited to $10,000 per year per beneficiary across all accounts.+
Yes. Distributions for qualified education loan repayments are limited to $10,000 lifetime maximum per beneficiary or sibling.
You will need:
- The information needed to identify your account
- The total amount you want distributed to the University on the beneficiary’s behalf
- Your beneficiary's UA ID number
Not from federal taxes. In some cases, they may be deductible from state income tax. For example, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, and Pennsylvania provide for state tax parity, whereby contributions to any 529 plan are eligible for the state's income tax deduction. Consult your tax professional for more information.
Federal gift tax - Gifts to an individual that exceed $15,000 in a single year are subject to the federal gift tax. However, for 529 plans, gifts of up to $75,000 ($150,000 for a married couple) can be made in a single year and can be exempted when averaged over five years of tax returns.
Federal estate tax - If you die and there is money remaining in your account, it will be excluded from your estate for tax purposes. (There are exceptions, however, if your contributions were being averaged over five years as described above.)
Changes to an Account
Yes, at any time. Or you can transfer a portion of your investment to another beneficiary—for example, if you have another child. Please note that the new beneficiary must be a member of the previous beneficiary's family, as defined by the IRS.
Generally, yes, although special rules may apply to accounts funded with UTMA or UGMA assets. You can also name a successor account holder to take over for you in the event of your death, or if you are declared legally incompetent.
In order to change ownership on your UA College Savings Plan account, you will need to complete the Transfer Between Accounts Form to authorize the registration change. If the account balance is greater than $50,000, the form will need to bear a Medallion Signature Guarantee stamp.
If the new account holder is new the UA College Savings Plan, they will need to complete a New Account Agreement Form to establish the updated account registration.
You can update your banking information on our Account Services Form.
Investments, Fees and Expenses
The Plan offers three investment approaches with multiple portfolio options. You can pick one or spread your investment over any combination of two or all three approaches.
Our enrollment-based portfolios are targeted to the expected college enrollment date of the beneficiary. These portfolios have more exposure to equities when the beneficiary is young and shift automatically to more conservative allocations as he or she approaches college age. Assets are moved to the Portfolio for Education Today in the year corresponding to the name of the portfolio. For example, Portfolio 2021 moves to the Portfolio for Education Today in the year 2021.
This balanced portfolio offers many special benefits. It has a UA Tuition-Value Guarantee, which locks in UA tuition value. If you invest in this portfolio, each contribution you make locks in tuition credits for future use at UA.
Each time you contribute to a beneficiary's account, you can select a different portfolio. You are allowed two reallocations between investment options in your 529 plan per calendar year. If you have already made two reallocations on your account this year, you cannot make another change until next year.
You can view performance by visiting the Performance Page. Also, if you access your account online, you can view your contributions since inception
A 0.05% annualized Trust Fee is charged to each portfolio, except the University of Alaska Portfolio. Each portfolio bears its share of the expenses of the underlying mutual funds in which it invests. The trustee fee and underlying mutual fund expenses are reflected in each portfolio's unit price.
Eligible Education Expenses and Institutions
You can use the funds for any purpose. However, to enjoy the full federal tax benefits, you either have to use the assets for tuition expenses up to $10,000 per beneficiary per year across all accounts at K-12 public, private, or religious schools, or you have to use the assets for qualified expenses at an eligible higher education institution as defined by the IRS.+ Such expenses include:
- Tuition and mandatory fees
- Books, supplies, computer technology, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance
- Room and board for any academic period in which the beneficiary is enrolled at least half time
- Certain expenses required for special needs students
As of December 2019, 529 savings can also be used for payment for fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for apprenticeship on-the-job training and classroom instruction as well as to pay for a qualified education loan of up to $10,000 lifetime maximum for your beneficiary or their sibling.
Depending on your state of residence, families may have to pay state income taxes on K-12 distributions. Consult your tax professional for more information.
Use the Federal School Code Search on the FAFSA Web site (www.fafsa.ed.gov) to search for a complete list of eligible colleges, universities, and vocational schools. In addition, the UA College Savings Plan can now be used to pay for tuition expenses at K-12 public, private, and religious schools (FAFSA codes are not assigned for K-12 schools). Costs associated with apprenticeship programs are also now eligible as long as the program is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Yes. They can be used federal tax-free at practically every college, university, technical school, and apprenticeship program in the United States. For a complete listing of eligible institutions, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov. To qualify to be used for an apprenticeship, the program must be registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.
The distribution may be subject to federal and state income taxes plus a 10% federal penalty. There are cases, such as in the event of a scholarship, appointment to a military academy, disability, or death of the beneficiary, where the distribution would not be subject to the 10% penalty, but may be subject to income taxes. Please see the Plan Disclosure Document for more information.
Yes as long as the savings are used to pay for a qualified education loan of up to $10,000 lifetime maximum for your beneficiary or their sibling. Distributions exceeding the lifetime maximum may be considered nonqualified, and any associated earnings may be taxed and penalized; please see the Plan Disclosure Document for more information.