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Investing for K–12 goals

Consider our individual options when investing for your K–12 goals. With this do-it-yourself strategy, you'll select your own investments and manage your portfolio over time.

Keep in mind these considerations

Using 529 plans to save for a child's K–12 education presents investors with scenarios that are very different from saving for college with 529 plans.

Spending patterns

To pay for the K–12 years, you'll be withdrawing money from your 529 plan over a much longer time frame than you would to pay for college.

Time horizon

You won't have as much time to save for a K–12 education before you start withdrawing as you would when you're saving for college.

3 tips for choosing your K–12 investments

  • Determine when you'll need the money to pay for education expenses.
  • Choose your investments based on when you'll need to use portions of your savings and your comfort level with risk.
  • Revisit your asset allocation each year to see if you have the same risk tolerance and time horizon. Reallocate your investments if necessary.

Choose the right investments for your goal

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If your goal is 2 years or less away

For the portion of your savings you'll need within 2 years, your main priority for that money should be preserving your principal. Consider low-risk investments that are easy to access.

The Vanguard 529 Plan offers the Vanguard Interest Accumulation Portfolio as an option for pursuing these short-term goals.

If your goal is more than 2 years away

If you won't need a portion of the money for more than 2 years, you can consider additional investment options for that money. Some types of investments offer greater potential to earn more toward your goal, but they also carry greater risk.

There are 2 ways to select individual portfolios for your Vanguard 529 account:

Don't forget to review your investments

Because investing in individual portfolios is a do-it-yourself strategy, you should review your portfolio regularly to make sure it's still in line with your goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. You may want to consider annual reviews as you get close to making tuition payments since you may be taking money out more frequently for K–12 expenses.


  • You can only move money from 1 portfolio to another twice a year. Your portfolio won't automatically become more conservative over time.
  • You should revisit your allocation periodically, especially if there are changes to your savings time horizon, risk tolerance, or personal situation.
Open a Vanguard 529 Plan

We're here to help

Talk with one of our education savings specialists.

Call 866-734-4533

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Eastern time


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Asset allocation

The way you divide your portfolio among the asset classes—stocks, bonds, and short-term or "cash" investments.

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Usually refers to investment risk, which is a measure of how likely it is that you could lose money in an investment. However, there are other types of risk when it comes to investing.

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Time horizon

The amount of time, usually expressed in years, that an investor expects to hold an investment.

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The amount of money originally put into an investment.

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Asset classes

General categories of investments. The 3 major asset classes are stocks, bonds, and cash investments.

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An investment that represents part ownership in a corporation. Each share of stock is a proportional stake in the corporation's assets and profits.

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A loan made to a corporation or government in exchange for regular interest payments. The bond issuer agrees to pay back the loan by a specific date.

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Short-term reserves

Investments in interest-bearing bank deposits, money market instruments, U.S. Treasury bills, and short-term bonds.