Internet? Study snacks? Just what is an eligible expense?

Pay for pencils.

Pay for books.

Pay for the ramen your student cooks?

To find the answer to this question, start by remembering that your my529 account will pay for “qualified education expenses.” What is a qualified education expense? (Spoiler alert: ramen is included.)

When you use 529 funds for higher education costs, room and board is an eligible expense for students enrolled at least half time at an eligible institution. The cost of room and board is easy to figure out when the student lives in a dorm and is on one of the school’s meal plans. But what happens when the student moves off campus?

According to, students living off campus or at home can have expenses like groceries and utility bills covered by 529 funds. Most colleges will set a limit on room and board expenses for off-campus students.

The college or university’s website should have information on the cost of attendance, which will be the guide for the allowable room and board expense amount when a student lives off campus. 529 funds used for room and board should not exceed the limits set.

Also, students wishing to claim these expenses should keep receipts (including the receipt for that case of ramen noodles, which hopefully will last the month).

Another eligible expense category is textbooks, e-books and supplies. That first trip to the bookstore—to find expensive, massive textbooks for which you already have large reading assignments—can be less overwhelming with my529 funds invested ahead of time.

Computers, peripheral equipment, educational software and internet access are also eligible expenses.

Find out more

Check out a list of qualified education expenses as you plan for the future.

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