Figuring out which colleges will help your child prosper can be difficult because each college claims to be uniquely better than all others. Luckily, figuring out which fund will help your college savings prosper is much easier: There are several independent analysts who have already done the hard work of identifying the college saving funds with the lowest fees, best returns, and best state tax advantages.
[Learn the four steps to maximizing college savings.]
For citizens of the 34 states (plus the District of Columbia) that give college savers a state tax break, putting money aside in Qualified Tuition Programs, usually referred to as 529s—after the section of federal law that created them—is generally the most lucrative option.
Here is a list of some of the most reputable and useful web resources for parents and grandparents shopping for the best 529 (in alphabetical order):
Finaid.org's explanation of 529 plans.
Finaid.org's ratings of 529 plans.
The Internal Revenue Service's general explanation of education tax benefits and credits.
The IRS's explanation of "Qualified Tax Programs" (a.k.a. QTPs or 529s).
Morningstar's 2010 analysis of 529s (PDF).
Savingforcollege.com's 529 guide.
U.S.News's Paying for College guide.
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