College Savings Strategies

Planning for college takes time and patience — and a little bit of foresight doesn't hurt either. No matter what age your children are, there are steps you can take today to help them on the road to a better education.

Preschool (ages 0–5)

  • Start with a reality check: Given the current trends, the cost of college could double by the time a child born today graduates from high school.1 Use our college savings planner to estimate how much college is likely to cost by the time your child is ready to enroll.

  • Waiting can be expensive. Talk with your financial advisor about the college savings options available, and consider opening a 529 plan account today to begin putting the power of compounding to work.

  • Consider enrolling in automatic investing. This is an easy-to-implement process in which you have a set amount of money regularly withdrawn from your bank account and automatically invested in your college savings plan. The result is a disciplined and focused approach that has the potential to deliver tremendous long-term benefits.

  • Don't go it alone: Anyone can contribute to a 529 plan, including grandparents, family, and friends. Suggest contributions for holiday and birthday gifts.

Elementary/middle school (ages 5–13)

  • Revisit your asset allocation mix to be sure it's appropriate for your savings goals.

  • If you've recently become a two-income family or are no longer incurring daycare costs, consider increasing the monthly amount you invest in a 529 plan.

  • Talk to your financial advisor about striking a balance between retirement and college savings, including long-term and short-term goals.

  • Ask your financial advisor about how you or your family members can remove estate assets and help save for your child’s education at the same time.

High school (ages 13–18)

  • Nearly two-thirds of students received some form of grant or scholarship last year, but eligibility and the amount of aid varied greatly.2 Research your potential eligibility for financial aid and use our financial aid estimator to see how using a 529 savings plan, or other vehicle that’s treated as a parental asset, may affect financial aid eligibility.

  • As you and your child start to focus on particular schools, rerun our college savings planner with specific tuitions to make sure you're still on track.

  • Talk to your financial advisor about how much to take in distributions from your college savings account and what strategies you’ll use to cover any potential shortfalls.

  • During college, continue working with the school's financial aid office to ensure that you are not missing any opportunities. Loans, grants, scholarships, and even work-study jobs can contribute to your child’s education and can change from year to year.

Additionally, you can use these educational pieces to get more information about what you can do with your child to help them advance in their education and pursuit of college.

Planning for your child’s higher education (pre-high school)

Planning for your child’s higher education (high school)

Information about the John Hancock Freedom 529 plan, calculators, and investing strategies
Clearinghouse for information on existing programs
Analysis of 529 plans, as well as tools and calculators
Information on scholarships, loans, and financial aid applications
Guidance on preparing for college and applying for financial aid
Resource for school-specific details and overall college planning

1 Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics, John Hancock Investments, 2014.

John Hancock Freedom 529 is distributed by John Hancock Distributors LLC, which is an affiliate of John Hancock Funds LLC, the distributor of John Hancock Investments.

If your state or your designated Beneficiary's state offers a 529 plan you may want to consider what, if any, potential state income tax or other benefits it offers, before investing. State tax or other benefits should be one of many factors to be considered prior to making an investment decision. Please consult with your financial, tax or other advisor about how these state benefits, if any, may apply to your specific circumstances. You may also contact your state 529 plan or any other 529 college savings plan to learn more about their features. Please contact your financial consultant or call 866-222-7498 to obtain a Plan Disclosure Document or prospectus for any of the underlying funds. The Plan Disclosure Document contains complete details on investment objectives, risks, fees, charges and expenses, as well as more information about municipal fund securities and the underlying investment companies that should be considered before investing. Please read the Plan Disclosure Document carefully prior to investing.

John Hancock Freedom 529 is a college savings plan offered by the Education Trust of Alaska, managed by T. Rowe Price, and distributed by John Hancock Distributors LLC through other broker/dealers that have a selling agreement with John Hancock Distributors LLC. John Hancock Distributors LLC is a member of FINRA and is listed with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). © 2013-2014. John Hancock. All rights reserved.

529 plans are not FDIC insured, may lose value and are not bank or state guaranteed.

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