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529 college savings plans

Get the tax benefits and flexibility you need to save for college

Whether you're investing for a child, grandchild or yourself, a 529 college savings plan offers tax advantages, diverse investment options and high contribution limits.
May be a good move for:
  • Tax-free growth potential
  • Federal (and often state) tax-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses1,2
  • Making contributions with no age or income limits
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Did you know?

You can now use up to $10,000 per calendar year per beneficiary in 529 assets to help pay for tuition at an elementary or secondary public, private or religious school.

Features and benefits

  • Other 529 plans offer maximum lifetime contribution limits of $250,000 or more. NextGen offers a higher maximum lifetime contribution limit of $475,000
  • Assets are treated more favorably for financial aid purposes than assets in a taxable account, such as a custodial account (UGMA/UTMA)3
  • Money can be used to cover tuition, room and board, books, computers and other supplies at any accredited U.S. college or university and some foreign schools. Also, effective January 1, 2018, you can take a federally tax-free distribution of up to $10,000 per calendar year per beneficiary to help pay for tuition at an elementary or secondary public, private or religious school. State tax treatment may vary1

Tax advantages

  • Any earnings have the opportunity to grow tax deferred, and withdrawals are federal (and often state) tax free when used for qualified higher education expenses1,2
  • Contributions are considered completed gifts and are removed from your taxable estate for estate tax purposes
  • Contribute up to $15,000 for individuals and $30,000 for couples annually, or up to $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples in a five-year period gift tax free4

Merrill Edge offers the NextGen Plan

NextGen Direct

Choose your own investments, rebalance your existing portfolios and change your investment allocation for future contributions

NextGen Select

Work with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™ and choose from a broader range of investment offerings than those offered in the Direct plan
Merrill Edge offers other state 529 plans to in-state residents. Contact a licensed Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™ at 888.637.3343 or schedule an appointment to learn more.

How much do you need to save for college?

Pricing and fees

NextGen Direct Plan

Annual account fee
Minimum initial funding requirement
May not be required for certain grant eligible Maine residents. See program description
Closeout fee
Additional fees may apply. For details, see program description.

NextGen Select Plan

Contact a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™ at 866.460.1282 for pricing and fees.

Get Started

NextGen Direct Plan

Open an account

Open your account online in minutes. Here's what you'll need:
  • Social Security number and date of birth
  • A valid mailing and email address
  • Employment information (including company name, address and start date)
  • General financial information (such as annual income and household net worth)
  • Names and dates of birth for any beneficiaries
Or call us 24/7 at 866.460.1282

Fund your account

Fund your account instantly in real time from your eligible linked Bank of America® bank account. Or, transfer funds to your account from an outside bank through the Automated Funding Service, through payroll deduction or by mailing in a check.

Start investing

Create an investment strategy
Build a balanced portfolio aligned to your investment goals in 3 easy steps.
Find the right investments
Choose from a variety of iShare ETF portfolios that may be right for you.
Manage your portfolio
Access your new Merrill Edge investment account anytime, anywhere—online, on your mobile device and at thousands of Bank of America® ATMs.
Meet with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™
Meet with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™ on the phone or in person, and get advice when you need it to invest for your child's education.
Or call us 24/7 at 866.460.1282

Important risk disclosures

Please remember there's always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities.
Any tax statements contained herein were not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal, state or local tax penalties. Neither Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates or financial advisors provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.
1 To be eligible for the favorable tax treatment afforded to any earnings portions of withdrawals from Section 529 accounts, withdrawals must be used for "qualified higher education expenses," as defined in the Internal Revenue Code. For distributions after December 31, 2017, qualified higher education expenses include tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school. These distributions are limited to $10,000 per calendar year, across all 529 accounts for the same beneficiary. State tax treatment may vary.
2 Section 529 plans are established by various states and are offered to residents of all states. Depending on the laws of the customer's home state, favorable tax treatment for investing in a Section 529 plan may be limited to investments made in a Section 529 plan offered by the customer's home state. Neither Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated nor any of its subsidiaries are tax or legal advisors. We suggest you consult your personal tax or legal advisor before making tax or legal-related investment decisions.
3 Financial aid rules may change, and the rules in effect at the time the beneficiary applies may be different. For more complete information, visit the Department of Education Web site at
4 For 2018, individuals can gift up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples filing jointly) per beneficiary in a single year without incurring gift tax. Contributions between $15,000 and $75,000 ($30,000 and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly) made in one year can be prorated over a five-year period without subjecting you to gift tax or reducing your federal unified estate and gift tax credit. If you contribute less than the $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples filing jointly) maximum, additional contributions can be made without you being subject to federal gift tax, up to a prorated level of $15,000 ($30,000 for married couples filing jointly) per year. Gift taxation may result if a contribution exceeds the available annual gift tax exclusion amount remaining for a given beneficiary in the year of contribution. For contributions between $15,000 and $75,000 ($30,000 and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly) made in one year, if the account owner dies before the end of the five-year period, a prorated portion of the contribution may be included in his or her estate for estate tax purposes.
Before you invest in a Section 529 plan, request the plan's official statement from your Financial Solutions Advisor and read it carefully. The official statement contains more complete information, including investment objectives, charges, expenses and risks of investing in the 529 plan, which you should consider carefully before investing. You should also consider whether your home state or your beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds and protection against creditors that are only available for investments in such state's 529 plan. Section 529 plans are not guaranteed by any state or federal agency.