College Savings Strategies

Determine Costs Today

If you're like most parents, you want to give your children the world. You have so many dreams for them, but are probably overwhelmed by the financial obligations needed to help them achieve those dreams.

In 18 years, the cost of a four-year private college education will cost over $440,000.1 Will you be ready?

Consider Time-Tested Strategies

No matter what the age of your child or loved one, it's never too late to start saving. Below are age-appropriate strategies that you can put into place today to help benefit your loved one's college savings plan for years to come.


  • Start saving from day one.
    The sooner you start, the better. You could be paying part of the bill with the interest that your money earns.

  • Consider college savings plans that include automatic investing.
    This is an easy-to-implement process in which you have a pre-determined amount of money regularly withdrawn from your checking account. Then, it is automatically invested in your college savings plan. The result is a disciplined and focused approach that can deliver tremendous long-term benefits.

  • Plan for a lifetime of rising incomes.
    A sound strategy is to increase your contribution to a college savings plan every time your income increases. As your expenses change, see if you can add more to your college savings plan.

  • Encourage loved ones to give the gift that keeps on giving.
    When family members and friends celebrate your child's birth, subsequent birthdays, holidays, and religious events, tell them about your child's college savings account. Every monetary gift they give will be part of a legacy of learning.

  • Turn to your parents.
    Often, grandparents are the ones who are most aware of how difficult it is for parents to manage the college savings burden alone, especially if more than one child is involved.

Elementary School

  • Raise your contributions to your 529 savings plan every time your expenses are lowered.
    If your child is in daycare or a private nursery school, you can expect to save a sizable amount when kindergarten begins. To build your college savings, why not take a significant share of daycare costs and direct it towards a college savings plan?

  • Look for new opportunities to save when you become a two-income household.
    If you waited until your child entered kindergarten to become a two-income household, consider putting a portion of one spouse's income into your child's college savings account. You'll be pleased that even a small amount has big potential to grow over time.

Middle School

  • Involve your child in the savings process.
    Encourage your child to put a portion of his or her allowance into a college savings plan. When relatives and friends give gifts for education, make sure your child is aware of its significant and enduring value.

  • Talk to your parents about estate planning and college savings.
    Talk to your Financial Consultant about how you can help your parents remove assets from their estate and help save for your child's education at the same time

    • When grandparents open an account and make contributions to a 529 savings plan for a grandchild, they remove assets from their estate, which means they won't pay federal estate taxes, and they still retain control of the assets.

    • A special provision applicable to 529 plans allows for up to five years' worth of contributions at one time. This is $70,000 from each donor filing separately or $140,000 per beneficiary if the donors are married and filing jointly.2

High School

  • Now is the ideal time to begin to involve your child in the savings process.
    Most likely, there will be money from a part-time job during the school year or employment in the summer. Soon your child will be able to contribute a sizeable portion of his or her income to a college savings plan.

  • Continue to put money from holidays, birthdays, religious, or other celebrations into your child's college savings plan.
    Make saving for college a family affair. Tell relatives and friends that it is one gift that will never be outgrown, discarded, or forgotten.


  • Involve your child in the savings process.
    Encourage your child to contribute some, or all, of his or her high school graduation gifts toward his or her college education. Every contribution helps.

  • Continue to research financial aid options.
    Continue to work with your child's financial aid office to make sure that you are not missing any aid opportunities. Loans, grants, scholarships, and even work study jobs, can all help to contribute to your child's education, and can change from one year to the next. Remember that saving is an ongoing process.

1 Source: Average cost of a four-year private college, including room, board, books, tuition, fees, transportation and other expenses for the 2012–2013 school year is $43,289 according to the College Board Annual Survey of College Pricing. All calculations were done using the Saving for College World’s Simplest College Cost Calculator. Assumes a 5% annual increase for the cost of college.

2 The donor must elect that the gift be treated as having occurred over a five-year period in order for it to qualify for the federal gift tax exclusion. If additional gifts are made to the same beneficiary during this five-year period, a federal gift tax may apply. If the donor dies within this five-year period, a pro rata share will be included in the donor's estate for federal estate tax purposes. State gift and estate tax laws may vary.

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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