One of the best ways to save for college is to have other people do it for you. Fortunately, 529s offer lots of opportunities to get outside money into them.

Are you stressing out about the junk your kids are going to get for the holidays? If so, give your generous friends and family an alternative: your 529’s gifting page.

Gifting pages are links you can share that allow others to contribute directly to your 529. It’s an easy way to build up college savings– annual gifts of $100 would give your student an extra $3,500 for college by the time they finish high school. Gifts of $500 per year would give them over $15,000.

How do you do it? Log into your account and search for a gifting link. Almost every 529 plan offers this feature, but if yours doesn’t, you could open an account in a different plan such as Utah’s my529 to access its gifting feature. Then, just send the link out to people who are generous with your kids along with a note letting them know that you appreciate their generosity and wanted to make them aware that saving for college is a priority for your family. In many cases, individuals who gift to a 529 can access state tax benefits for their gifts, too; check your plan’s rules so that you can communicate all the benefits.

And then make sure you send the link out again at your child’s birthday, graduation and other gift-giving occasions! Note that gifts to 529s are subject to the IRS’ annual gift tax exclusion amount, currently $17,000 per donor/recipient.*

529s have other options to get more money in:

  • UPromise has a credit card that gives cash back to a 529
  • Many states allow you to link bottle deposit refunds to a 529
  • Many states allow your state tax refund to be deposited directly into your 529

Look up your plan’s contribution info to see different ways you can build up your savings. Small amounts over time can result in your child having many more choices when the college years arrive.

* In English, this means that a person can give another person a cash gift of up to $17,000 (in 2023) without filing a gift tax return. Gifts in excess of that amount require givers to file IRS Form 709. Gifts to a 529 in excess of the annual exclusion amount are called “superfunding” and subject to specific rules; read more about that here.

Does thinking about college have you tearing your hair out? Check out my book, How to Pay for College, to develop a plan for your family, whatever your child’s age or stage on the journey to higher education.