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College Financing and Career Guide 2007
Financing for college
Don't despair! From student loans to college grants, there are many options for paying for an education.
Financing for college
Bonds, custodial accounts: alternatives to 529
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Income qualifications
Keep in mind that if only a portion of the proceeds is used for qualified expenses, then only that part of the interest is exempt. However, if your adjusted gross income, or AGI, exceeds a certain amount, the exemption is phased out. For bonds cashed in 2007, the exemption begins to disappear when the joint AGI is $98,400 or $65,600 for a single parent. The exemption completely disappears if the joint AGI is $128,400 or $80,600 for a single. These figures are adjusted annually for inflation.

A new online program
I and EE bonds were once sold and redeemed solely as a paper security, but now they're available in electronic form. As a TreasuryDirect account holder, you can buy, manage and redeem I and EE bonds online.

A new program called Smart Exchange allows TreasuryDirect account owners to convert their Series E, EE and I paper savings bonds to electronic securities in a special conversion linked account within their online account.

When you purchase bonds this way, the bonds are:
Sold at face value; you pay $50 for a $50 bond.
Purchased in amounts of $25 or more, to the penny.
$30,000 maximum purchase in one calendar year.
Issued electronically to your designated account.

If you redeem I or EE bonds within the first five years, you'll forfeit the three most recent months' interest. After five years, you won't be penalized.

Custodial accounts
When parents can afford to pay for their child's college education or the family's income is too high to receive financial aid, it is time to consider a custodial account. Known as the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act, or UTMA, or Uniform Gifts to Minors Act, or UGMA, accounts, they offer the most flexibility and up to $850 a year in tax-free earnings. Any family member can contribute to these accounts. Withdrawals can be made at any time without penalties.

There is one potentially significant drawback: Money in a custodial account is an income-producing asset of the child, so it will be difficult to qualify for need-based financial aid. In addition, your child will have complete control of the money once he or she reaches the age of 18 (in most states). If your child decides to blow the money on a trip to Europe instead of using it for educational purposes, there is nothing you can do to legally stop him or her.

-- Posted: July 2, 2007
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