The primary and most tangible benefit of a 529 plan is the tax-deferred growth of the assets in the plan (growth is tax free to the extent the plan assets are used for tuition.) (See “529 Basics,” p. 55.) But this benefit must be weighed against the 529 plan's associated costs. The cost easiest to quantify is the administration fee that, along with other incidental charges like custody fees, vary, sometimes widely, by state. How the use of a 529 plan compares to saving for higher education ...

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