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These costs include average transportation expenses a student may incur while living on campus including gas, maintenance, bus fare and costs of traveling home for vacations and holidays.

Health insurance

If your child is not covered by your family health insurance policy, you may be required to purchase health insurance through the college. The type of coverage available and price of the policy will vary depending on the college, but the average plan typically costs around $1,500- $2,500 per year. Medical bills are also considered a non-qualified expense. 

However, if health insurance or transportation costs are charged by the university as part of a comprehensive tuition fee, or the fee is identified as a fee that is “required for enrollment or attendance”, the expense may be considered a qualified 529 plan expense. 

Extracurricular activities and other miscellaneous expenses

Joining a sport, club fraternity or sorority also comes with additional costs that are not covered by your child’s 529 plan. Clubs sports programs, such as rowing and field hockey, are usually the most expensive, with dues as high as $2,500 per year. You may be able to use your child’s 529 plan savings to pay for fraternity or sorority housing costs (up to the college’s room and board allowance amount), but semester dues (sometimes more than $1,000) are considered a non-qualified expense. Other non-qualified personal expenses include gym memberships, entertainment, dates and childcare. 

Some room and board costs

Students can use a 529 plan to pay for room and board expenses, but only if they are enrolled in an eligible college on at least a half-time basis. If the student lives off-campus, qualified room and board costs are limited to what is included in the college’s cost of attendance (COA) allowance for room and board for the period. Qualified expenses must have incurred during an academic period when the student was enrolled in or accepted for enrollment in a program leading to a recognized academic credential.

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Saving For College is an unbiased, independent resource for parents and financial professionals, providing them with information and tools to understand the benefits of 529 college savings plans and how to meet the challenge of increasing college costs.