FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a 529 account?
A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage savings for many higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, and certain room and board costs.
Why talk about college and careers with young students?
We believe students can dream about their futures as early as kindergarten! Part of the goal of the Promise is to generate conversation and curiosity about college, even among our youngest students and their parents. It’s never too early to dream about the future. The Promise is part of a K-12 approach and the activities are an age-appropriate introduction to college and career discovery.
Who is running this program?
College Choice 529 is the State of Indiana’s plan. It provides a state tax credit for Hoosiers. Learn more about the plan at the Indiana Education Savings Authority.
What is the Promise Community Matching Fund?
Essentially, it is a community piggy bank where generous donors and businesses can pool their donations to support incentives and matching funds for children enrolled in DeKalb County Promise.
What does it cost to participate?
Through the Promise, you can sign up for a College Choice 529 account with no dollars invested. The normal fee for signing up for an account has been waived.
We are a home-school family. Can we still participate?
Yes! Contact us to learn how to sign up.
If I opt out now, will I have the opportunity to sign up at a later date?
In order to participate in the Promise this school year, you must sign up for your College Choice 529 account during the current enrollment window. Please contact us to find out when our enrollment periods start and end.
I have a child entering 2nd grade and another entering 4th. Can I enroll both of them?
Our current focus is Kindergarten to 3rd grade. So yes, you may enroll both of your children, however only the child in the eligible grade level, your 2nd grader, can participate in the Promise and receive the incentive dollars. Your 4th grader will not currently be eligible for the incentive money, but can still have his/her own 529 career savings account.
College Choice 529 Accounts
Are these Promise accounts any different than other College Choice 529 accounts?
Families who create an account through The Promise are establishing a primary College Choice 529 direct savings plan for their child, owned by the parent or guardian who signs up. These accounts are no different than other direct accounts except that they are “tagged” as being part of The Promise so that we can administer the community contributions to eligible students. When the program started in 2013, matching grant accounts were created for participating students in order to provide a protected account where additional community funds could be deposited. While these matching grant accounts still exist, at this time, community incentives are now deposited in an omnibus account set up for each participating community.
What happens if my child decides not to go to college?
You may change the beneficiary to another “eligible” family member with no tax penalty. Even if your child’s path doesn’t include any type of post-secondary education, you still have options. You opened the 529 for the benefit of your child, but the account belongs to you and you have the right to change the beneficiary.
As long as the new beneficiary is a family member—a sibling, first cousin, grandparent, aunt, uncle or even yourself—the money can be used for qualified education expenses without incurring income taxes or penalties. Qualified expenses include tuition, required fees, books, supplies, computer-related expenses, even room and board for someone who is at least a half-time student. The $25 enrollment incentive and any contributions you make to the account remain yours. However, any community matching gifts are forfeited if the beneficiary is changed.
What if my child already has a 529 account?
That’s great! Only accounts set up through the Promise will be eligible for matching gifts. Contact us to learn how to link your account to the Promise program, or download the form.
Do I have to be the child’s parent to set up a College Choice 529 account?
No; parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, almost anyone can be an account owner.
If I sign up for an account, who has access to the personal information I provide?
Your personal information will be protected and will only be used to open the account and not shared with a third party.
Can a 529 be used for other education – besides college – for example, a certificate?
You can use your account assets for many higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, and certain room and board costs. This includes 2-and 4-year colleges, graduate schools (including law and medical), and vocational/technical schools. Click here to learn if an institution qualifies for 529 purposes.
Can a College Choice 529 account only be used in Indiana?
You can use the assets at any eligible school around the country and abroad—not just in Indiana. This includes 2-and 4-year colleges, graduate schools (including law and medical), and vocational/technical schools. You continue to own your 529 account even if you relocate outside of the county. However, if you relocate you will not be eligible for matching gifts in future years of the program. Click here to learn if an institution qualifies for a 529.
What if I want to use an account advisor?
You may choose to use an advisor to manage the investments in your College Choice 529 account; however “advised” 529 accounts are not eligible for community match dollars from DeKalb County Promise.
How can I keep track of the account?
You will begin receiving quarterly statements on your College Choice 529 account in the first quarter of the year. You can also keep track of the funds in your direct account though quarterly statements and through the College Choice 529 website.
When will the incentive money be deposited into the account?
As soon as College Choice received the funds for incentive deposits from local communities, they process those deposits. It takes 7-10 days to process the deposits after the receipt of the funds.
Can I make gifts to the CollegeChoice 529 at other times? Can friends and family also make gifts to my child’s account?
You can contribute to your 529 account anytime at www.collegechoicedirect.com, and friends and family can make a gift at any time by using your unique Ugift code, which you can provide to them. Login to your account or visit Ugift529.com to learn more.
Can I contribute to the College Choice 529 account through my employer?
Yes. Contact your Human Resources Department to learn how to set up a payroll deduction.
Does my child have access to the funds when he/she turns 18 years of age?
The College Choice 529 account continues to be under the control of the account owner, even if the beneficiary reaches the age of 18.
Becoming a Champion
What is a “champion”? Does a champion have to make a financial gift?
A champion is someone who supports a student (or students) in his or her dreams and future college and career success. A champion can help in two ways: by making a gift to a student’s CollegeChoice 529 account or by providing written or verbal encouragement and support.
Can I make a contribution to accounts of children in the county on a larger scale? Such as investing in an entire class or grade level of students?
Yes; you can become a champion by providing financial support for larger groups of students by class, school, district, or becoming a champion for children across the DeKalb County.
Are there protections in place to make sure the funds are used for education? Can parents access the funds provided by the match? Can parents access funds provided by the child’s champions?
Special safeguards are put in place to ensure matching funds are protected from misuse.
Is a 529 account only for kids?
There is no maximum age for a 529 plan. As long as your school is eligible, you can use your 529 plan assets – even if you’re not attending full-time. However, community match dollars are only for 4 year old – third grade at this time.
What if I don’t want to sign the waiver?
If you are not comfortable signing the waiver, then you will not be able to participate in the DeKalb County Promise program.
Can you sign up multiple beneficiaries using one paper form?
No, only one beneficiary per form.