Tuesday, August 12, 2008

College Students: Laptop Purchased with 529 Plan

The 529 Plan is one of the better idea for those who can afford it.  It is a education savings account that allows parents and students to save and draw money out with incurring taxes.  Nevertheless, it's not a free for all.  We've learn financial advisors push it as a security against rising educational costs.  Laptops are often thrown in as a purchase that is allowable under 529.
However, that is not necessary so, as Los Angeles Times reports.  What?  Not laptops?  Onxo only reported the necessity of Twenty-First Century students being trained to used laptops with Internet skills so how can laptops not be allowable under the 529 plan? In fact, should it not be mandatory?
Okay, that is a bit extreme.  So, if you want to get yourself or your college bound student a laptop for use in school, what are you to do?  The codes of 529 specify "tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for the enrollment or attendance at school".  
Unfortunately, laptops does not automatically qualify.  If the specified educational regiment does not require use of a laptop, then you can forget about using 529 funds to get one.  Yeah, for that about that Macbook or Dell.  
It is a big archaic as far as the 529 plan goes when it was first created.  The LA Times article spoke about the need to update the codes to meet the demands and skill sets a future mobile warrior will need to succeed in today's world.  
Regardless, it's best you speak with the school and whoever help you set up your plans on what you should do.  There are some sites that you may want keep in mind (Onxo listed the as listed from LAT) if you have questions or for safe keeping when you do need it.  
Also, there are some suggestions for the 529 plan:
  • Keep good records.
  • Take out money that you need.  Match the expenses to avoid the "Eye" of the IRS.
  • Do not take out money to pay for future expenses.  
  • Seek advice and educate yourself as what options are available to you.
Here are some sites you can seek for more information:
Note:  Onxo believes certain mobile devices are needed like a laptop.  It will depend on the Congressional will.  With 2008 being an election year, however, I'm not too hopeful.  So are any other mobile devices allow in the 529 plan?  Right now, it's not looking good.  Onxo would like to see at least one mobile device allow, be it MID, a smartphone, or a mobile platform device like the iPhone.  
It would make sense for computer manufacturers to push for a permanent change to the 529 as it is in their own self-interest if a more students are allow to purchase a laptop for college.  In fact, I would make it tax deductible up to $1000 per student.  How does that sound?
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