While most parents understand the value of a college education, helping our children pay for college is becoming more difficult as the years go by. Today’s college hopefuls face skyrocketing tuition expenses, as well as an everyday life that is far more expensive today than it was just 10 years ago. According to College Board’s “Trends in College Pricing” report, students at public four-year institutions during the 1987-1988 school year paid an average of $3,190 in tuition, with prices adjusted to reflect 2017 dollars. By thirty years later, that average had risen to $9,970 for the 2017-2018 school year—a 213 percent increase. The rising cost of higher education has led to a reality where the majority of current Americans carry student loan debt.

At Winter & Associates, we understand that while coming up with the funds to pay for college can be challenging, many parents across the country are willing to do whatever it takes in their search for funding. It’s inspiring to see how hard American families have worked to provide better opportunities for their children. However, we don’t think you should have to sacrifice your retirement or quality of life in order to send your kids to college. We’re on a mission to help families better understand their options for paying for college and develop customized funding strategies to cover the costs.

If you can start a college funding strategy as soon as possible after your child is born, you’re on the right track. But even if your child is already in high school, you can benefit from our expert guidance. If you need help understanding college funding options and devising a strategy that’s right for you and your family, contact us today. We provide comprehensive college funding solutions, insights, and guidance for Minnesota families.


A little preparation can go a long way when saving money for your children’s college education. There are several options that can help put you on the right track—it’s just a matter of weighing the advantages/disadvantages of each and choosing an appropriate strategy for your situation. When you work with Winter & Associates, your financial advisor will help you develop a college funding strategy that best meets your needs.

College funding options include:

  • 529 Plan - Also known as a qualified tuition plan, a 529 plan is an education savings plan that provides tax and financial aid benefits. It may be used to pay for eligible college tuition and expenses, as well as up to $10,000/year in tuition expenses at private, public, and religious K-12 schools.
  • UTMA/UGMA - UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) and UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act) are both types of custodial accounts that can be used for any expense that benefits a child. They allow adults to transfer assets to a minor once the minor reaches a certain age.
  • Coverdell ESA - Much like a 529 Plan, a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) offers tax advantages. One of the key differences, though, is its added restrictions around household income and maximum investment per child.
  • Non-Qualified Account - There are some expenses a college student may incur that are not considered qualified. These additional costs can be significant, so families may want to consider opening an additional savings account to complement a tax-advantaged account, such as a 529 plan.
  • Roth IRA - While used primarily for retirement funding, Roth IRAs can also be used for education purposes. Keep in mind you may owe income taxes on the funds withdrawn and you must have held the account for 5 years at time of withdrawal. 

In today’s world, college tuition costs are increasing much faster than the rate of inflation. Without a solid college funding strategy, you and your children could face a long-term financial burden. Let us help you make well-informed decisions for your children’s futures. Contact us today to book an appointment!

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged investment program designed to help pay for qualified education expenses. Participation in a 529 plan does not guarantee that the contributions and investment returns will be adequate to cover education expenses. Contributors to the plan assume all investment risk, including the potential for loss of principal, and any penalties for non-educational withdrawals.

Your state of residence may offer state tax advantages to residents who participate in the in-state plan, subject to meeting certain conditions or requirements. You may miss out on certain state tax advantages should you choose another state’s 529 plan. Any state-based benefits should be one of many appropriately weighted factors to be considered in making an investment decision. You should consult with your financial, tax or other advisor to learn more about how state-based benefits (including any limitations) would apply to your specific circumstances. You may also wish to contact your home state’s 529 plan Program Administrator to learn more about the benefits that might be available to you by investing in the in-state plan.