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Special Report

Morningstar's Guide to College Savings

What you need to know about college-savings options, from 529 plans to Coverdells to Roth IRAs.

College savers are investing with a critical goal and a fixed time frame. Given the high financial and emotional stakes involved in choosing and paying for college, investors should feel confident about their choice of savings vehicle, whether it's a 529 plan, a Coverdell, or a Roth IRA.

In the articles in this guide, we examine what you need to know about college-savings options in terms of their tax treatment and their effect on financial aid eligibility. We'll also help you figure out how much to sock away to reach your goal, and how to take that first step to set up a plan and start saving.

Much of our content is devoted to 529 savings plans, which have become popular vehicles for college savings because they allow a significant amount of money to be saved, and they have money-saving tax advantages. We answer frequently asked 529 questions and tick off main considerations that should drive your 529 plan selection. We've also included our complete list of 529 plan ratings to help you home in on the best option for your situation.

The Best 529 Plans
Taking advantage of tax benefits by investing in low-cost, smartly designed 529 plans can stretch your college savings dollars.

A Guide to Your College-Savings Options
We compare and contrast a few of the most common college savings vehicles.

Why You Should Fill Out the FAFSA (Even If You Think It's a Waste of Time)
The FAFSA for the 2019-20 school year is available. Put it on your to-do list.

Taking a Loan to Pay for Kids' College? Read This First
Data shows that more parents are taking out loans for college funding. We take a look at the pros and cons of different funding sources.

Getting Started with a 529 College-Savings Plan
If setting up a college savings account is on your to-do list for 2019, here are some tips for getting going.

For Most College Savers, Prepaid 529 Plans Don't Make the Grade
Investment in prepaid 529 plans continues to decline, and in many cases it's not hard to see why.

5 Misconceptions About College Aid
Don't disregard the FAFSA when planning how to pay for college.

Morningstar Names the Best 529 College Savings Plans for 2018
Two upgrades and nine downgrades highlight this year's ratings.