The gift of education


In early August 2003, my parents and I made the journey to Atlanta, where I was to start college at Emory University. After extensively researching different schools, I applied to Emory “early decision” because I was desperate to (temporarily) leave the frigid winters behind and attend school on a beautiful campus where there was a good balance between academics and social life.

I had a wonderful four years at Emory, making close friends and majoring in business at one of the top undergraduate business programs in the country. I still can’t believe this was 15 years ago!

Now, I spend a lot of time thinking and talking with clients about funding higher education. Many parents and grandparents want to help pay for their loved ones’ college tuitions. One of the best ways to do this is through a 529 Plan. A 529 Plan is an account that can be set up when a child is born and can grow tax-free and be used tax-free to fund educational pursuits.

If you are planning to help a child or grandchild, it is best that you either use a 529 Plan or pay their school directly. I would caution against gifting your family member directly, as this may impact their financial aid eligibility.

While 529 Plans are thoughtful gifts, it is always important to first check on your own financial health before gifting to others. If everything checks out, there is little better gift than the gift of education.

I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous new year, and I look forward to connecting again in 2019.

JASON E. SIPERSTEIN, CFA, CFP, is vice president, wealth management, at Eliot Rose Wealth Management. Contact him by email, at