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Can 529 Plan Money Pay Your Rent?

Jun 18, 2012

When college students first attend school they usually choose the dorms as their residence. As they become accustomed to college life they find the restrictions of dorm life to cumbersome. To have a little more freedom they choose the off-campus residences. Your 529 plan is allowed to be used for your dorm residence bill. But does the rule say you can use the money for off-campus rent payments.

The good news is yes. But the bad news is not necessarily the full amount. The 529 plan rules say as long as the student is enrolled at least half-time in a degree program, room and board qualify as proper expenses to be covered by tax-free withdrawals from the 529 plan. But be careful, the maximum amount permitted for off campus living costs is the amount the college cites as the off-campus room-and-board figure for federal financial aid purposes. Ask the college's financial aid office for the number it reports to the Department of Education.

Your other expenses like electric, water, and other reasonable expenses are also allowed. Only as long as the total doesn’t exceed the school’s official room-and-board figure.

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