Another Reason to Open a Roth IRA: Paying for College

student-loan-debt

I was reading the business section of the LA Times when I came across this nugget:

Because you make Roth IRA contributions with after-tax dollars, you can withdraw them at any time without taxes or penalties, just like 529 plans.

I knew that. I’ve done that, but it never occurred to me to contribute with the intention of using that money for college costs. Do you know what that nugget means? It means that:

  • Instead of opening two accounts and having to schedule two contributions, you can open one.
  • You can take out the money you put in, not the interest that you’ve earned, to pay for college costs after letting it grow for years and years.
  • If you don’t end up using it for college expenses you can let it continue to grow until retirement.
  • If you do want to use the money for college costs, the money in your Roth IRA with not count against your child for financial aid like a 529 plan would.

That is revolutionary. You can contribute, let the money grow, it won’t count against your kid when you apply for financial aid (FAFSA, scholarships, loans, etc.), and you can leave it there to continue to grow until you need it for retirement. The absolute best part? You can leave the funds left in the account after you die to your spouse OR any beneficiary that you designate and that money can continue to grow.

There seems to be no downside to opening a Roth IRA.

 

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