How can I access my account online?
To register for online access, select Sign up for access below the red Log on button on the Vanguard Personal Investors homepage. Then complete the 3 steps below, and you’ll be good to go!
- Enter your personal information and verify your identity.
- Create a user name and password.
- Select your security features and preferences.
How do I access my 529 account once I’m logged on?
When you log on to vanguard.com, you may see a list of accounts, depending on the types of Vanguard accounts you have. To navigate to your Vanguard 529 account, select Go to my 529 plan account.
What actions can I complete online for my 529 account?
As a registered user, you’ll be able to access your account information, make updates, and perform most transactions in just a few steps. It’s easy to:
- Check your account balance.
- Perform transactions such as:
- Making a contribution.
- Taking a withdrawal.
- Update personal information, such as your mailing address.
- Update information for a linked bank.
- Change your payroll deduction information.
- Access statements, confirmations, and tax forms.
- Update successor information and interested parties.
- Change your investment options.
- Access forms to:
- Transfer the account to a different beneficiary.
- Roll over assets from another 529 plan account.
How can I contribute to my Vanguard 529 account?
You can contribute through:
- Electronic bank transfers from your checking or savings account. After you’ve opened your account, the minimum for each subsequent contribution is $50.
- Recurring contributions (also known as an automatic investment plan or AIP), which are set amounts automatically moved from your checking or savings account to your college savings account on a regular schedule that’s convenient for you.
- Checks made payable to: “The Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan”
- Send by U.S. mail to:
P.O. Box 55111
Boston, MA 02205-5111
- Send by registered, certified, or overnight mail to:
95 Wells Avenue, Suite 155
Newton, MA 02459-3204
- Send by U.S. mail to:
- A rollover from another 529 plan or an Education Savings Account (ESA). You can initiate a rollover with our Incoming Rollover Form. Note: If you don’t already have a Vanguard 529 account, you’ll first have to open one in order to complete the rollover process.
- A transfer from a Uniform Gifts/Transfers to Minors Act (UGMA/UTMA) account.
- Payroll deduction (if your employer offers this option for education expenses).
We don’t accept contributions made in cash or by credit card, or non-cash assets such as mutual fund shares or other securities. We also don’t accept certain checks, including third-party personal checks over $10,000, foreign checks not in U.S. dollars, checks dated more than 180 days prior to receipt, or postdated checks.
Note: Contact your tax advisor to find out the tax implications of various contribution methods.
How can I take a withdrawal?
The quickest and most convenient way is to log on and request a withdrawal online. You can also contact us by phone or complete and submit a Withdrawal Request Form. You can find available 529 plan forms by selecting Forms in the top margin of any vanguard.com webpage, and then choosing 529 savings plans.
There are generally 2 types of withdrawals:
- Qualified withdrawals. These can be used for qualified higher-education expenses such as tuition, fees, books, equipment (including computers, internet access, and computer software), certain room-and-board expenses, and expenses for students with special needs.
Also, as much as $10,000 over a person’s lifetime can now be used for student loan payments.
And you may be able to withdraw up to $10,000 annually for tuition at qualifying K‒12 public, private, and religious schools; however, not all states allow for tax-free withdrawals. Account owners should seek guidance on K‒12 withdrawals from the state in which they pay taxes.
In addition, the following situations always allow for qualified withdrawals:
- The disability or death of a beneficiary.
- The beneficiary’s receipt of a qualified scholarship (as long as the amount withdrawn doesn’t exceed the amount of the scholarship).
- Transfer of assets to another beneficiary (as long as the new beneficiary is a member of the original beneficiary’s family).
- Nonqualified withdrawals. These are used for anything other than qualified expenses. Common nonqualified expenses include travel costs, sorority and fraternity fees, and sports or entertainment expenses. Note that earnings on nonqualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes.
What investments should I choose?
Once you’ve enrolled in The Vanguard 529 Plan, you can choose from a variety of investment options that consist of one or more Vanguard mutual funds. The plan offers two main types of investment options:
- Age-based options. Age-based options are investing choices designed to give you a simpler way to save for higher education. When you choose this approach, we manage your portfolio for you. Choose the one age-based option that matches both your child’s age and your risk comfort level (conservative, moderate, or aggressive). We’ll gradually move your savings through a series of portfolios that become more conservative over time.
- Individual fixed portfolios. If you’re an investor who’s comfortable choosing and managing your own investments, we also offer individual portfolios which have investment mixes that maintain their same asset allocation over time. You determine how and when to make any changes when you elect to invest in our individual portfolios.
How can I invest to minimize risk?
With an age-based option, the asset allocation is designed to automatically shift away from stocks and move toward generally less-risky bonds and cash reserves. Your allocation becomes the most conservative as your child nears college age—just when you want the most protection for your money (and when you’ll be needing it for tuition bills.)
When can I change my investment options?
IRS regulations only allow you to exchange money from your current 529 investment options to different options twice per calendar year. (The automatic changes within age-based portfolios don’t count). If you have multiple investment options for a beneficiary, you must request all changes for that beneficiary on the same day. However, you can change the investment options for your future contributions anytime you want.
To make an exchange online, log on to your account and choose Change investment options from the menu. You can also make changes by phone, or by mail using our Vanguard 529 Annual Exchange/Future Contribution Change Kit.
Can I have friends and family contribute to my Vanguard 529 account?
Absolutely! Support from family and friends can play a large role in a student’s success. According to research by the Journal of Children & Poverty, young people who expect to graduate from a 4-year college and have a 529 college savings account are approximately 6 times more likely to attend college than those with no account.*
*Elliott & Beverly, 2011. “The Role of Savings and Wealth in Reducing ’Wilt’ Between Expectations and College Attendance.” Journal of Children & Poverty.
How does gifting work?
The Vanguard 529 Plan, in partnership with our program manager, Ascensus College Savings, offers a free gifting service called Ugift® that gives family and friends an opportunity to contribute by using a gift code assigned exclusively to your account. To find your code:
- Log on to your 529 plan account.
- From the menu, choose Share Ugift code and history of gifts.
- On the Ugift page, you’ll see the unique Ugift code for your account.
You can email your code to friends and family, include it on party invitations, or share it via social media.
Gift givers simply log on to Ugift and enter the code you’ve given them and the amount they want to give. They can also can send money electronically or by check.
Can I recontribute refunds I receive from a college or university?
Yes. If your beneficiary receives a refund from an eligible educational institution for money paid for qualified higher-education expenses, you may recontribute the refund to the account for which the student is a beneficiary. The money must be recontributed by July 15, 2020, and can’t exceed the refunded amount. This is an exception granted by IRS Notice 2020-23 for 2020.*
What are the tax rules for the recontribution of qualified higher-education expenses?
When you’re given a refund from an eligible educational institution of money paid from the beneficiary’s 529 plan account for qualified higher-education expenses, you can recontribute that money into the same account or another 529 account for the same beneficiary. There won’t be any federal income taxes or penalties associated with a recontributed refund as long as the refund is recontributed by July 15, 2020,* and the recontributed amount doesn’t exceed the amount of the refund. You’ll receive a 1099-Q for the full (original) distribution amount. Please refer to IRS Publication 970 and speak with your tax advisor about your specific situation to determine any taxable amount.
* On April 10, 2020, the IRS released Notice 2020-23. This notice provides relief for 529 plan account owners who received a refund of a distribution from the 529 plan this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief would allow for the refund to be recontributed to the 529 plan no later than July 15, 2020, giving most recipients more than the current 60-day period that is allowed under the rules from IRS Notice 2018-58.
All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
For more information about The Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan, obtain a Program Description, which includes investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information; read and consider it carefully before investing. Vanguard Marketing Corporation, Distributor.
If you are not a Nevada taxpayer, consider before investing whether your or the designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified tuition program. Other state benefits may include financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors.
The Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan is a Nevada Trust administered by the office of the Nevada State Treasurer.
The Vanguard Group, Inc., serves as the Investment Manager for The Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan and through its affiliate, Vanguard Marketing Corporation, markets and distributes the Plan. Ascensus Broker Dealer Services, LLC, serves as Program Manager and has overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations. The Plan’s portfolios, although they invest in Vanguard mutual funds, are not mutual funds. Investment returns are not guaranteed and you could lose money by investing in the Plan.
Ugift is a registered service mark of Ascensus Broker Dealer Services, LLC.
© 2020 The Vanguard Group, Inc. All rights reserved.