14 Mar

Free Money for College – Really!

March 14, 2008

Many of you know that 529 plans are a great way to save for your children’s college education.  What you may not know is that there are free programs available that can help you boost your savings amounts.  These programs are free to use and reward you for things you already do – they are like frequent flyer miles for college savings.

UPromise and BabyMint are two programs available that allow you to earn rebates on your purchases that can be applied to your child’s 529 plan.  Under the UPromise program, you can register your current credit and debit cards with their website and earn rewards for shopping at participating retailers and purchasing eligible products.  Products range from local restaurants, life insurance, vacation planning, and home purchases.  You can even register your grocery store discount cards to track purchases on certain grocery and household items.  BabyMint has a similar program but you must log in to their website in order to track your transactions with their eligible online participating retailers.

Both programs allow you to roll the money directly to a 529 plan, apply the balance to eligible student loans, or have a check mailed to you to deposit in your 529 plan (if your plan is not automatically linked with these programs).  They also encourage you to have family and friends enroll as well to increase your rewards.  In addition, UPromise and BabyMint both offer their own credit card that allows you to earn additional rebates.

Illinois’ Bright Start 529 plan has recently partnered with Futuretrust Mastercard.  This program gives cardholders a 1% rebate on all purchases and has special offers with partner companies to provide up to 15% rebates on certain purchases.  Futuretrust gives you a one-time $25 contribution to your Bright Start account and automatically transfers your rebate balance quarterly when the account reaches $25.

Another program available is SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards.  This program is linked with BabyMint and Wisconsin’s EdVest 529 plan, among others.  The SAGE Scholars program credits members with guaranteed tuition reductions at over 200 nationwide private colleges and universities.  They give dollar for dollar matches on rebates through BabyMint and you can earn 5% credit annually based on the value of your EdVest account.

For more information, visit the following websites:

www.upromise.com

www.babymint.com

www.futuretrust.com

www.tuitionrewards.com

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