5. Birth of a child: "Sending out birth announcements is a great opportunity to get extended family involved in funding 529 plans," Ward suggests. "We have quite a few families that start 529 plans for children at birth."
Plus, she notes, when entire families are involved early in college savings, donation habits are formed for other milestones throughout the child's life, including graduations, birthdays, and religious ceremonies.
Reyna Gobel, frequently quoted as an expert on student loans and college costs, is the author of "Graduation Debt: How To Manage Student Loans And Live Your Life" and "How Smart Students Pay for School: The Best Way to Save for College, Get the Right Loans, and Repay Debt." She has appeared on PBS's Nightly Business Report and speaks regularly at CollegeWeekLive.