Advisors, distributors, program managers and administrators may find the following resources helpful in navigating the many components of saving for college. The listed resources show the broadest information first (IRS Publication 970, FAFSA and the College Board), followed by industry associations and plan information (College Savings Plans Network, College Savings Foundation and SavingforCollege), and concluding with federal regulatory sources (the MSRB and FINRA).
Internal Revenue Service, Tax Benefits for Education www.irs.gov/publications/p970
The Internal Revenue Service, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, applies the rules and regulations of the Internal Revenue Code. Publication 970 is the most fundamental guide to all Education Tax Benefits.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid www.fafsa.ed.gov
This Web site provides information on the federal financial aid process, including eligibility requirements and the list of Federal School Codes where 529 funds can be used. . The FAFSA application, which must be completed to qualify for federal and state student grants, work-study, and other loans, is also the basis for determining the Expected Family Contribution.
College Board www.collegeboard.com
The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association composed of more than 5,400 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. Each year, the College Board serves seven million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools, and 3,500 colleges through major programs and services in college admissions, guidance, assessment, financial aid, enrollment, and teaching and learning. In college savings, the College Board is best known for its reports on college costs.
College Savings Plans Network www.collegesavings.org
The College Savings Plans Network is the largest association of 529 state administrators and private sector firms in the college savings industry. The CSPN website provides information on all 529 savings and prepaid plans and has a useful tool to compare 529 plans.
College Savings Foundation www.collegesavingsfoundation.org
The College Savings Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that works with public policy makers, the media and the financial services industry to promote education savings programs. Its membership includes the majority of private sector administrators and distributors of 529 as well as a growing number of state administrators and professional services firms that support the college savings industry. The website provides useful and important research and industry data.
Saving for College www.savingforcollege.com
This website provides comprehensive information on every 529 plan nationwide. It’s also great all-around resource for 529 professionals and financial advisors, with performance information and an extremely useful comparison tool.
Municipal Securities Regulatory Board www.msrb.org
The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board is the rulemaking entity for dealers of municipal securities, including 529 plans (as municipal fund securities). Its rules are enforced by FINRA, and as such, do not apply to state administrators of 529 plans. However, the MSRB’s principles can provide a useful guide for the public sector when determining the best way to operate and distribute 529 plans. The MSRB web site provides useful information for financial advisors, municipal dealers, and individual investors, including specific information on College Savings Plans.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority www.finra.org
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States, including nearly 4,800 brokerage firms, about 172,000 branch offices and approximately 646,000 registered securities representatives. FINRA enforces the rules set by the MSRB and its website provides useful information for advisors and investors alike under Saving for College.