4 Surprising Facts That Prove Future Scholar Has All the Bases Covered

Future Scholar, South Carolina’s 529 college savings plan, has never been more popular.

Not only have over 170,000 account holders discovered the smart, easy way to save for college, but Future Scholar also routinely ranks among the country’s best 529 performers.

Even with all its positive exposure and praise, there’s still much more to know about South Carolina’s award-winning plan.

These lesser-known facts prove that Future Scholar has all the bases covered, making it an even more popular choice for a family like yours!

1. Future Scholar Funds Can Be Used at Myriad Schools Nationwide

Many people mistakenly assume that 529 funds must be used at in-state schools.  On the contrary, 529 plans like South Carolina’s Future Scholar plan can be used at any accredited school in the nation, as well as more than 600 international schools. And that includes accredited trade or vocational schools.

So, if your child decides that a traditional four-year college or university isn’t the best fit for his or her career plans, your Future Scholar account can be used at any accredited post-secondary program. As you might expect, the list of eligible schools includes many universities, technical schools, and community colleges. It also includes schools that focus on trades that range from cosmetology and culinary arts to graphic design and massage therapy. In other words, with Future Scholar, you’ve got options.

2. Future Scholar Accounts Can Be Used for More Than Tuition

When considering how a 529 plan like Future Scholar will be used, tuition and fees most often come to mind. While those price tags represent the lion’s share of higher education expenses, there are many others expenses and, thankfully, many other ways that Future Scholar funds can be used.

Funds can be used to purchase books, supplies, and equipment (e.g. computers) required for enrollment in or attendance at an eligible higher education institution.

If the school provides housing and the student is enrolled at least half-time, the funds can also be used to pay room and board, including both off-campus housing and food costs. Expenses for off-campus housing, up to the amount required to live in a dormitory, are considered qualified.  The same applies to food expenses, up to the cost of the school’s meal plan.

3. Future Scholar Savings Have Minimal Impact on Financial Aid Eligibility

When it comes to financial aid, only a small percentage (less than 6%) of the account's value is considered when determining your expected family contribution (EFC) and financial aid each academic year. So, no matter how much you’ve saved with Future Scholar, your financial aid eligibility will be minimally affected.

How your expected family contribution (EFC) is calculated is a somewhat complex formula that can change yearly — the latest update can be found on the Federal Register. It’s also important to realize that your EFC is not necessarily what you will end up paying. Some schools cannot meet each student’s need, so families deciding to send a child to that school may end up paying more than the EFC. If you are eligible for financial aid, your Future Scholar account will be a very small factor in determining your EFC, making a college savings account even more important.

4. Future Scholar Is Easy and Flexible

When you decide to open an account, you’ll find the process fairly effortless. For starters, you can enroll entirely online - with no minimum contribution! Just be sure to have the full name, address, date of birth and social security number of the beneficiary. And - anyone can open a Future Scholar account. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or even thoughtful neighbors can open an account and name any beneficiary they choose. Anyone can contribute to one, too, which makes it easy to ask for contributions to an account as a gift.

To fund the account online, you’ll need a bank account and routing numbers. However, if you like to do things the old-fashioned way, you can print and mail an application. Or, if you want more information and step-by-step instructions, you can order an enrollment kit.

When the time comes, accessing your funds is just as easy. And if your child doesn't need the money you’ve saved or has decided not to attend college, you can simply transfer the account to another eligible beneficiary without incurring any tax penalty.

So now you know more surprising ways Future Scholar has all the bases covered - for you! Whether you want to change beneficiaries, use the funds to pay for a trade school in California or cover off-campus housing costs, South Carolina’s 529 college savings plan is here to help. It’s as convenient as it is flexible, so it’s little wonder that more than 170,000 people are already saving with Future Scholar. And by opening an account today, your family will soon be on the road to enjoying all of its amazing perks, too!