Skip to main content

Investing for K–12 goals

The Vanguard 529 Plan's investment choices aren't limited to investing for higher education. You can use our Target Enrollment or individual portfolios to save for K–12 expenses too.

Important considerations when investing for K–12

While our 529 investment options easily adapt to K–12 saving, it's important to keep in mind the following considerations as you plan your goals:

To pay for the K–12 years, you could be withdrawing money from your 529 plan over a longer period than the 4 years typically needed to graduate from college.

You'll have fewer years to save for a K–12 education because the enrollment period begins much sooner than it does for college.

3 tips for choosing your K–12 investments

  • Determine when you'll need the money to pay for tuition expenses.
  • Choose your investments based on your risk comfort level and when you'll need to start withdrawing portions for tuition expenses.
  • If you choose an individual portfolio rather than a Target Enrollment Portfolio, revisit your asset allocation each year to see if your risk tolerance and time horizon are the same. Reallocate your investments, if necessary.

What if I'm saving for separate goals?

Let's say you have $100 to invest—$75 for college and $25 for high school. Here are 2 possibilities:

  • Consider splitting your investment into 2 separate Vanguard Target Enrollment Portfolios, and let the portfolio adjust for you automatically as you reach your enrollment date.
    • $75 in a Target Enrollment Portfolio closest to the expected year your student will enter college.
    • $25 in a Target Enrollment Portfolio closest to when your child will enter high school.

See the Vanguard Target Enrollment Portfolios

  • Choose your own strategy and invest the money among Vanguard individual 529 portfolios. There are 2 ways to select individual portfolios for your Vanguard 529 account:
    • If you prefer a fund with a mix of investments, consider one of the several multifund individual portfolios that may be suited to the particular time frame you have for meeting K–12 tuition expenses.

See the Vanguard 529 individual portfolios appropriate for K–12 investing

    • If you want to build your own portfolio, select from among our plan's 20 individual 529 portfolios, which cover all the major asset classes. When using your own strategy, you can choose up to 5 investment options per beneficiary to save for either higher education or K–12 tuition.

See The Vanguard 529 individual portfolios

Don't forget to review your investments

Whether you choose a portfolio that adjusts on its own, or you use 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 could be taking money out more frequently for K–12 expenses.

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


Layer opened.

Asset allocation

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

Layer opened.


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.

Layer opened.

Time horizon

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

Layer opened.


The amount of money originally put into an investment.

Layer opened.

Asset classes

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

Layer opened.


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

Layer opened.


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.

Layer opened.

Short-term reserves

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