Account owners recount their my529 journeys

Twenty-five years of my529: thousands of account owners and beneficiaries, countless books, supplies, papers, tests, lectures, labs, performances, study sessions, classes, certificates, degrees, diplomas, ideas, and dreams.

Below, a few account owners share their stories.

Laurel I., Millcreek, Utah

Through the years, Laurel has contributed monthly to my529 accounts for two nieces, a nephew and a friend’s daughter.

Her oldest niece, Hailey, had previously earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. my529 funds covered half of the tuition for a second bachelor’s degree in nursing, and student loans supplemented the rest.

“The [my529] funds definitely gave me peace of mind about extending my educational journey,” Hailey said. “My education and career as a nurse would not have been possible without my funds.”

Laurel’s second niece, Isabella, has studied acting, while her nephew, Ryan, studied engineering at Salt Lake Community College.

Laurel stressed that it is important to “cast a wider net” with education savings to include loved ones like “aunts, uncles and close friends,” and utilize 529 gifting (like the my529 Gift Program) where possible.

“If you are in a position to buy kids a birthday or holiday gift, I would always suggest using part of the money to go towards a 529. Start as young as possible.”

Phillip B., Sandy, Utah

Phillip echoes the importance of regular contributions.

He and his wife Heidi invested with my529 for Heidi’s graduate degree at Utah State University. They contribute to my529 accounts for their four children, and their eldest son, Abram, is using funds to help pay for his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah. Abram just began his first on-campus semester as a secondary English teaching major after completing a year of remote learning. His younger sister heads to college next year.

“Paying for college can be daunting. my529 has a super easy interface that allows for regular interval deposits that simplify and, more importantly for me, automate the process. Once it comes time to actually make payments to the school for tuition or books, the my529 interface is very easy to get funds out of the accounts and to the school,” Phillip said.

Jon R., Salt Lake City

“I’ve used the 529 plan for higher education for all three of my children. It helped pay for their tuition at the University of Utah,” Jon said. “It’s allowed them to get their undergraduate degree(s) without having to take out student loans.”

“Even though most of the time during college they had part-time jobs, the focus of their time was studying and maintaining good grades instead of working lots of hours to pay for school,” Jon said.

Jon’s eldest child earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting, while his second is a senior studying finance, and his youngest is in nursing school.

Amy B., Salt Lake City

Amy opened a my529 account for her daughter Charlotte when she was an infant. After graduating from high school during the pandemic, Charlotte had to shift her plans. She used her my529 funds to begin remote schooling toward a film production degree at Salt Lake Community College.

“my529 was a lifesaver during COVID. Charlotte was able to take online classes and make progress towards her dreams, instead of wasting a whole year,” Amy said.

Currently, Charlotte is taking a gap year to attend circus school, which is “not a qualified expense, but it’s great she has funds to finish her associate’s degree when she’s ready.”

In the future, Charlotte would like to study modern dance, with an emphasis on dance for the camera and circus arts. She plans to continue making her own films and hopes to work on a film crew.

Tammy O., Texas

“It has been comforting to know that we have saved a significant part of their college education and that the earnings will be withdrawn tax free,” Tammy said, highlighting one of the primary benefits of a my529 account—tax-free withdrawals for qualified education expenses.

Tammy’s eldest daughter graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human biology from the University of Southern California and is now pursuing a nursing degree at the University of Miami. Her second daughter studies computer science at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She also has two other children with my529 accounts.

“Our four children have grown up knowing that we are saving money for their education. It creates an environment where they know that education is a priority for the family,” Tammy said.

Dan F., Washington

Dan said that his financial advisor guided him toward my529 several years ago because of its high Morningstar ratings.

“The my529 account provided us with the financial comfort and freedom to allow our daughters to select the higher education option that was right for them, regardless of cost,” Dan said. “And they will be able to graduate with minimal college debt, enabling them to start their careers in a financially stable manner.”

His two daughters have used their my529 funds to pay for tuition, fees and room and board at their universities. One daughter is studying civil engineering in pursuit of a career in transportation engineering, and her sister is majoring in interior architecture and design, with an architecture minor, focused on a career in interior design.

“Our daughters were given the confidence to begin pursuit of whatever career they wanted, knowing that they could attend the school and enter a career of their choice, with less concern of the financial implications,” Dan said. “The my529 account provided them with the ability to be more open-minded about the educational career that they pursued.”