Accounts & Plans

The Vanguard 529 Plan

Investing in a 529 account can help you reach your education savings goals.

Choose from more than 30 portfolios with our 529 plan

What's a 529?

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged account made specifically for education savings—like colleges, trade schools, or vocational schools. You can save for your child, another family member, or even for yourself.

You can use it to help pay for tuition, apprenticeship programs, room and board, fees, books, supplies, equipment, computer hardware and software, and internet access and related services.1

Why choose the Vanguard 529 Plan?

More than 325,000 investors across all 50 states have chosen the Vanguard 529 Plan for their kids.2

We hire top investment professionals with the experience and expertise you've come to expect from Vanguard. And as one of the largest 529 plan money managers, we're here for you now—and in the long run.4

You can link your bank account to your 529 account and set up an automatic investment schedule, which allows you to add to your savings conveniently and systematically.

You can use Ugift® to invite others to celebrate a child's milestones with the gift of education savings. The gifts are then deposited directly into your Vanguard 529 Plan account.

You can also join Upromise® to get cash back for education when you make everyday purchases. Your Upromise earnings can then be transferred to your 529 account.

What do I need to start a Vanguard 529 account?

It's fast and easy to get started online. You only need 3 things:

Basic information

Make sure you have the beneficiary's Social Security number, birth date, and address. 

Investment choices

Pick just 1 Target Enrollment Portfolio or assemble your own investment strategy from our individual portfolios.

Bank information

If you're going to make your first contribution through an electronic bank transfer, you'll need your bank account and routing numbers. You can also set up automatic contributions from your bank account to your 529 account.

We offer different portfolio options

Check out the advantages of each one.

Target Enrollment Portfolio

Target-enrollment investing makes saving for education about as easy as it gets. With our Target Enrollment Portfolios (TEP), you make just 1 decision—and your portfolio does a lot of the work for you.

Individual 529 portfolios

Want a more hands-on approach to investing? Design and manage your own investment strategy by choosing from our individual portfolios.

Helpful resources

When should you start saving for college?
Childhood goes from crib to kindergarten in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, college will be next. But you'll be ready!
Making the 529 decision
Answer a few simple questions to find the right account for your education savings.
10 things that may surprise you about 529s
Learn more about 529s—one of the most popular education savings account types in the U.S.

Fees & other details

  • No enrollment fees, transfer fees, or commissions.
  • Minimum initial investment of $3,000 ($1,000 for Nevada residents); minimum additional investment is just $50.
  • Maximum contribution limit is $500,000.

Other plans we service

Ready to start?

529 plan tools

Ready to create a plan for education savings? Learn about your options and map out a way to meet those expenses.

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Frequently asked questions

If the money isn't used for qualified higher-education expenses or K–12 tuition, a 10% penalty tax on earnings (as well as federal, state, and local income taxes) may apply. However, there are a few options to get around this:

  • You can use the money to pay for more than just "college"—trade and vocational schools and apprenticeship programs,1 for example.
  • You can give the money to someone else (a qualified family member) to use for college.
  • You can leave the money in the plan in case your child (or grandchild) decides to attend school later (there's no age limit on using it).

Through a prepaid tuition plan, you buy credits for tuition, usually at a specific state college or state college system, at today's prices. If the beneficiary attends a different college or doesn't attend college at all, you may not get back the full value of the credits.

Through a college savings plan, you contribute to a fund or a portfolio of funds offered by the plan. You can use this investment to pay for tuition, room and board, books, supplies, and other qualified expenses at any accredited vocational school, college, or graduate school in the United States or abroad. You can also use your 529 college savings plan assets for K–12 tuition of up to $10,000 per student per year at a public, private, or religious school.

The Vanguard 529 Plan maximum contribution limit is $500,000. Although you can't make any additional contributions to your account once you've reached that limit, your account can continue to have the potential to grow over time.

Only the person who opens the account (the account owner) has access to it, unless the owner, using necessary documentation, grants permission to someone else.

So, for instance, if you're a grandparent who opens an account for your grandchild, the child's parents won't automatically have access to the account—i.e., the ability to check balances, change investments, or withdraw money from the account.

If you and your spouse open an account, keep in mind that one parent will be designated as the account owner and only that parent will automatically have access to the account.

Yes, 529 plans are especially popular with grandparents who want to save for a grandchild's future and reap estate planning benefits at the same time.

Beginning January 1, 2023, you can contribute up to $17,000 per year ($34,000 if married filing jointly) to a single beneficiary without triggering a federal gift tax.

And if you want to gift a larger amount, you can contribute up to $85,000 ($170,000 if married filing jointly) per beneficiary and then treat it as though you contributed that amount over a 5-year period.6 (However, you can't make additional gifts to the beneficiary during that time without triggering gift tax.)

IRS regulations only allow you to exchange money from your current 529 investment options to a different option twice per calendar year. (The automatic changes within Target Enrollment Portfolios don't count.)

However, you can change the investment options for your future contributions anytime you want.

Yes, more than one account can be opened on behalf of the same beneficiary. In fact, only account owners are generally eligible for state tax deductions. So if that's a benefit you're looking for, you might be better off opening a separate account for your beneficiary even if one already exists.

Almost anyone—parents, grandparents, other relatives, and friends. You can even open a 529 account for yourself!