College savings deadline approaches

Published 7:07 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

For all those well-meaning procrastinators out there, your time is almost up.

The deadline to submit your Virginia 529 College Savings Plan online is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, and all mail applications must be postmarked by Wednesday.

“College tuition and fees have increased dramatically in recent years,” stated Mary Morris, CEO of the Virginia College Savings Plan in a press release. “[The savings plan] is designed to provide some relief by providing certainty to the key component of the future cost of higher education — tuition and mandatory fees.”

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The Virginia 529 program allows families to purchase college contracts for future tuition and fees at Virginia’s public colleges and universities. It is the only one of Virginia 529’s four tax-advantaged college savings programs with a limited enrollment period because the contracts are re-priced every year.

Money invested in the program grows tax-free and remains tax-free if used for qualified higher education expenses.

Account owners filing Virginia income tax returns also may deduct up to $4,000 per account each year with an unlimited carry forward until all contributions are deducted.

This is the thirteenth enrollment period for the program, which has over 100,000 contracts purchased since inception. More than 70,000 of those contracts are still active and annually providing benefits to thousands of students in public and private colleges and universities in the state and around the world.

With extended payment options, a one-year community college contract for a newborn may be purchased by a parent, grandparent, friend or family member with payments of $35 per month and a one-year university contract for that same newborn would run $103 per month on an extended installment plan.

Contracts can be purchased for children newborn through ninth grade, as long as the child or account owner is a Virginia resident at the time the contract is purchased.

Cost is based on the age of the beneficiary, the type of contract purchased – either community college or university – and the number of years purchased.

Contracts may be paid in a lump sum or in installments.

The program benefits may be used at accredited technical schools and public and private colleges across the country and, in certain cases, around the world, although full coverage of tuition and fees at those schools is not guaranteed.

For more information on the program and its benefits and costs, go to or call toll free 1-888-567-0540.

“A key feature of these contracts is that there is no penalty for a child not attending a public school in the future, the benefit is simply calculated differently and will not be guaranteed to cover the full cost of tuition and fees at those other schools,” Morris further stated.”