Have Questions?Read our FAQ section, contact our Client Service team, and access forms to manage your account.
Almost anyone. There are no income restrictions, and you don't have to be a resident of Arkansas. You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien, aged 18 years or older, with a verified permanent U.S. address and valid Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number.
The person you're opening the account for (the beneficiary) must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien with a valid Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number. The beneficiary doesn't have to be related to you. You can also name yourself as beneficiary and use the money for your own education, or that of an unborn child.
Yes. While there can be only one beneficiary named for each account, you can open multiple accounts for different beneficiaries. You can contribute up to $500,000 per beneficiary for all 529 accounts sponsored by the State of Arkansas.
Yes. For example, a father, mother, grandparent, and uncle can each open a separate account for the same beneficiary and can also open separate accounts for other beneficiaries. You can contribute up to $500,000 per beneficiary for all 529 accounts sponsored by the State of Arkansas.
Technically, the beneficiary must have a Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number before an account can be opened. This is so the identities of both the account owner and beneficiary can be verified. However, if you would like to open an account for an unborn child, an account can be opened in your name as both the account owner and beneficiary. Then, once the child is born, the beneficiary ownership can be transferred to the child. If we're unable to verify your identities, the plan reserves the right to close your account or take other steps we deem reasonable. Your Social Security number is also required for tax-reporting purposes.
Yes. Arkansas taxpayers may be eligible to deduct up to $5,000 (up to $10,000 for married couples making a proper election) in Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan contributions from their Arkansas adjusted gross income calculation on their Arkansas state income taxes.1
Arkansas taxpayers who contribute more than $5,000 (more than $10,000 for married couples making a proper election) to the plan in one tax year may carry forward those additional funds to the next succeeding four (4) tax years.
Yes. Contributions up to $3,000 per Arkansas taxpayer ($6,000 for married couples making a proper election) to a tax-deferred tuition savings program established by another state are deductible per year; provided that the taxpayer has not deducted the contribution on another state’s income tax return.
Yes. Arkansas employers can receive a business tax deduction of up to $500 per each employee match into an Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan account.
Yes. The State of Arkansas offers 529 plan contributors a one-time state tax deduction of $7,500 when they roll their out-of-state 529 plan into an Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan.
To qualify for federal tax-free withdrawals on earnings, the money must be used for qualified education expenses for the beneficiary at an eligible educational institution. An eligible institution is one that can participate in federal financial aid programs and K-12 programs.
Higher-education expenses: Qualified costs include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment, including computers, certain peripheral equipment, internet access, related services, and computer software, if the items are to be used primarily by the student during enrollment or attendance at any eligible postsecondary school in the United States or abroad; certain room and board expenses during academic periods in which the beneficiary is enrolled at least half-time; and certain expenses for students with special needs.
Apprenticeship programs: Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan money can also be used to cover fees, books, supplies, and other required equipment at apprenticeship programs registered and certified through the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Student loan repayments: This includes principal or interest on any qualified education loan of the beneficiary or a sibling of the beneficiary, up to $10,000 in a lifetime, per individual.
K-12 tuition: For federal tax benefit purposes, qualified expenses also include K–12 tuition of up to $10,000 per student per year in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school. In addition, Arkansas taxpayers can use Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan assets to pay for K–12 tuition, with no state tax consequences. State tax treatment of K–12 withdrawals is determined by the state where the taxpayer files state income tax. If you're not an Arkansas taxpayer, please consult with a tax advisor.⁴
No. The money in your account may be used at any eligible educational institution in the United States and abroad that qualifies under federal guidelines, including qualified apprenticeship programs. While Arkansas recognizes tuition at K-12 public, K-12 private, and K-12 religious schools as a qualified expense for Arkansas taxpayers, other states may not. Please check with the state in which you reside to see if they have adopted federal guidelines surrounding K-12 tuition.
If a postsecondary school has been assigned a federal school code by the Department of Education, then it is an eligible institution under Section 529. This includes most public and private colleges and universities, graduate and postgraduate schools, community colleges, and certain trade and vocational schools.
An eligible K-12 school is any public, private, or religious school that provides elementary or secondary education (kindergarten through grade 12).
Qualified higher education expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment, including computers, certain peripheral equipment, internet access, related services, and computer software, if the items are to be used primarily by the student during enrollment or attendance at an eligible postsecondary school in the United States or abroad; certain room and board expenses during academic periods in which the beneficiary is enrolled at least half-time; and certain expenses for students with special needs. Qualified expenses also include K–12 tuition of up to $10,000 per student per year in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school.4
Regarding apprenticeship programs, qualified education expenses include fees, books, supplies, and equipment. Regarding student loan repayment, qualified expenses include principal and interest for the beneficiary or a sibling of the beneficiary⁵ limited up to $10,000 in a lifetime per individual.
Under the federal laws that govern 529 plans, you're able to move money you've already contributed to a different portfolio within your account twice per calendar year or if you change the beneficiary.
Total annual asset-based Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan fees are 0.53% (0.39% for the Savings Portfolio). For example, if you invest $1,000, the annual fee would be just $5.30 ($3.90 for the Savings Portfolio). All non-resident accounts are charged an annual account fee of $20, and that fee is waived if the designated beneficiary or account owner is a resident of Arkansas. Please refer to the Program Description and Participation Agreement (included in the Enrollment Kit) for more information on fees.
Yes. Account Owners and beneficiaries may have multiple accounts in multiple states.
You may contribute up to $17,000 per beneficiary annually ($34,000 for married couples making a proper election) with no gift-tax consequence.
The Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan allows you to invest up to $500,00 per beneficiary in a lifetime.
Yes. If your beneficiary receives a refund from an eligible educational institution for money paid for qualified higher-education expenses, you may recontribute the refund to the account for which the student is a beneficiary. The recontributed amount can't exceed the amount of the refund.
You can maintain your account and continue to make contributions no matter where you live in the United States.
However, if you're an Arkansas resident and move out of state, you will need to check with a tax advisor as to your eligibility to deduct your contributions for Arkansas state income tax purposes.
You may perform a tax-free rollover of a 529 account for the same beneficiary once every 12 months. You may move money two ways:
- The first is by direct rollover (money is transferred directly from your current 529 plan custodian to the Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan).
- The second is by indirect rollover (you request a check for the amount from the current 529 plan custodian and reinvest it in the Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan within 60 days).
Check with your current custodian to verify that it will accept your request for a rollover and to determine if any penalties will apply to the transaction. When you request a direct rollover using either the Enrollment Application (for new accounts) or the Incoming Rollover Form (for existing accounts), you must provide us with a statement from the plan custodian showing the basis and earnings amounts in the 529 account at the time of distribution.
The State of Arkansas offers 529 plan contributors a one-time state tax deduction of $7,500 when they roll their out-of-state 529 plan into an Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan.
Anyone can contribute, not just the account owner. Ugift® makes it easy, and it’s a great way for family and friends to give something meaningful and long-lasting at birthdays, holidays, graduations, and other milestone occasions. Here’s what you do:
- Log in to your Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan account to get your unique Ugift® code.
- Share your code with loved ones; Ugift® can even help with invitations, social media posts, emails, or thank you cards.
The contribution goes directly into your Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan account.
You may also contribute using the READYSAVE™ 529 app, available through the App Store or Google Play, and share your Ugift® code with a few clicks.
You can contribute by:
- Electronic bank transfer (one-time contributions in varying amounts from your checking or savings account).
- Recurring contributions (also known as an Automatic Investment Plan or AIP). These are set amounts moved from your checking or savings account on a regular basis.
- Payroll direct deposit (through participating employers).
- Logging in to the READYSAVE™ 529 app, available through the App Store or Google Play, and clicking on the “Add Money” icon.
- Check (made payable to "Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan").
- Transfer from a Coverdell education savings account (ESA) or a Series EE or I U.S. savings bond.
- Transfer from a Uniform Gifts/Transfers to Minors Act (UGMA/UTMA) account.
We don't accept contributions made in cash or by credit card; third-party personal checks over $10,000; foreign checks not in U.S. dollars; checks dated more than 180 days prior to receipt; or postdated checks.
We also don't accept non-cash assets, such as mutual fund shares or other securities.
Note: Contact your tax advisor to find out the tax implications related to various contribution methods.
Yes. You may contribute up to $17,000 per beneficiary annually ($34,000 for married couples making a proper election) with no gift-tax consequence.
Yes. Take advantage of an $85,000 contribution ($170,000 for married couples making a proper election) that can be treated as if it was made over a five-year period.2
Rollover contributions up to $7,500 per Arkansas taxpayer ($15,000 total per married couple making a proper election) into the Plan from a tax-deferred tuition savings program established by another state are deductible from Arkansas state income taxes in the tax year in which such contribution was rolled over into the Plan.
Withdrawals for qualified expenses are exempt from federal and state tax. For a list of qualified educational expenses, see the question: What counts as a qualified educational expense?
You may make withdrawals at any time, taking into consideration the following guidelines:
- The money that you contribute to the plan has to be collected by the plan before you can withdraw it. For example, if you contribute to an account by check, you may not withdraw that money until the check has cleared and the money is in your account.
- Contributions you make by check, recurring contributions (also known as Automatic Investment Plan or AIP), or electronic bank transfer will be available for withdrawal after seven business days.
- If you request a withdrawal by check at the same time you change your mailing address, the withdrawal will be held for nine business days.
- If you add or change bank information, you need to allow 15 days for withdrawals by electronic transfer.
Withdrawals can be requested online, by phone, or by submitting a Withdrawal Request Form. Qualified withdrawals can be sent to the account owner, the beneficiary, or the educational institution.
Non-qualified withdrawals can be sent to the account owner or the beneficiary. Please note that earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes. Tax benefits and other benefits are contingent upon meeting other requirements, and certain withdrawals are subject to federal, state, and local taxes.
If your withdrawal request is received in good order prior to 3 p.m. Central Standard Time, on a day the New York Stock Exchange is open, it will be processed with that day's trade date. Withdrawals received in good order after the 3 p.m. cut-off time will receive the next business day's trade date.
For requests made online or by phone: If you request the proceeds by check, they will typically be mailed to the recipient within three business days after the trade date. Allow ten business days for the check to be received.
If you request that the proceeds be sent to you electronically, you'll need to have banking information set up 15 days prior to making the request.
For requests made by using the Withdrawal Request Form: A check will typically be mailed to the appropriate recipient within three business days after the trade date. Allow ten business days for the check to be received.
Note: No matter how you're receiving the proceeds, allow extra time if the money is being sent directly to the educational institution, as crediting the student's account may be delayed in periods of heavy volume.
Also keep in mind that during periods of market volatility and at year-end, withdrawal requests may take up to five business days to process.
The plan will generate a Form 1099-Q in January of the calendar year following a year in which there was a withdrawal from the account. The recipient of the 1099-Q will be either the account owner or the beneficiary, depending on who received the proceeds of the withdrawal.
Withdrawals sent to the account owner will be reported under the account owner's Social Security number. Withdrawals sent to the beneficiary or an educational institution will be reported under the beneficiary's Social Security number, per IRS guidelines.
You can change the beneficiary on your account at any time, provided that the new beneficiary is an eligible family member of the original beneficiary. The following is a partial list of beneficiary relatives who, by law, are considered to be suitable substitutes:
- Brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, or half-sister.
- Son or daughter (or descendant of either).
- Son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.
- Spouse or the spouse of any individual previously listed.
- First cousin.
You can find a complete list of eligible beneficiaries in the Program Description and Participation Agreement.
If that's the case, you have three options:
- Stay invested. You can leave the money in the account in case the beneficiary decides to attend school later. There's no age limit for using the money.
- Change the beneficiary. You can change the beneficiary on your account at any time, provided that the new beneficiary is an eligible family member of the original beneficiary.
To see a complete list of eligible family members, refer to the Program Description and Participation Agreement. Read the Program Description and Participation Agreement.
- Withdraw the money for other uses. You can always access the balance in your 529 account, regardless of what happens with the beneficiary. If you withdraw for a non-qualified use, you’ll be taxed on just the earnings portion of your balance, plus a 10% penalty.
Exceptions to this 10% penalty include a withdrawal made because the beneficiary:
- Has passed away or become disabled.
- Received a scholarship, to the extent the withdrawal amount doesn't exceed the scholarship amount.
- Has enrolled in an eligible U.S. military academy, to the extent that the amount of the withdrawal doesn't exceed the value of the education. Eligible academies include the U.S. Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, and Merchant Marine Academy.
Additionally, any accumulated earnings that are withdrawn from your account must also be reported on the recipient's income tax return for the year in which they're distributed, and you may owe federal, state, and local income taxes.
Contact your tax advisor to determine how to report a non-qualified withdrawal.
529 plan assets are counted at different rates for the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) in the FAFSA formula. Federal guidelines are as follows:
- If the student is a dependent, a 529 plan account is considered the parent's asset (whether the account is owned by the student or the parent of the student). As a result, it will generally be counted at a rate of up to 5.64% of its value for the EFC.
- If the student isn't a dependent and is the account owner, the 529 plan account is treated as the student's asset and is generally factored into the EFC at the higher rate of 20%.
- In other cases (such as with a grandparent), the account doesn't count as an asset for federal financial aid purposes. (However, a student may have to report distributions received from the account as income for these purposes.)
Note: Financial aid programs offered by educational institutions and other non-federal sources may have their own guidelines for the treatment of 529 plan accounts.
For complete information about financial aid eligibility, you should consult with a financial aid professional and/or the state or educational institution offering a financial aid program, since rules and regulations often change.
If you die with money remaining in your account, it won't be included in your estate for federal estate tax purposes.
However, if you choose to take advantage of the federal gift-tax averaging option and you die within five years of contributing, a prorated portion of the contribution will be subject to estate tax. For more information, consult your tax advisor or estate planning attorney.
AR College Saver can help you create a personalized plan for calculating higher education costs and enable you to search for colleges and scholarships. You can also access dynamic college planning center tools and other helpful links. AR College Saver is a collaboration among The Arkansas Brighter Future Plan, Arkansas Treasurer of State, Arkansas Student Loan Authority, and the Arkansas Division of Higher Education.
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1 Arkansas taxpayers can deduct up to $5,000 (up to $10,000 for married couples making a proper election) of your Arkansas Brighter Future Direct Plan contributions from your Arkansas adjusted gross income with any unused excess contribution in a tax year being carried over to the next succeeding four tax years, beginning January 1, 2017.
2 In the event the contributor does not survive the five-year period, a pro-rated amount will revert back to the contributor’s taxable estate.
3 An eligible institution is one that can participate in federal financial aid programs and K-12 programs.
4 Expenses for tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school, not to exceed $10,000 per student per year in the aggregate across all 529 Plans for such student. Since different states have different tax provisions, if you or your beneﬁciary, as applicable, are not an Arkansas taxpayer, the state(s) where you pay income tax may differ in its state income tax treatment of K-12 tuition expenses. You should consult your own state’s tax laws or your tax advisor for more information on your state’s taxation of withdrawals for K-12 tuition expenses.
5Principal or interest on any qualified education loan (as defined in section 221(d) of the Internal Revenue Code) of the designated beneficiary or a sibling of the designated beneficiary, up to a lifetime limit of $10,000 per individual. Note, if you make an education loan repayment from your Account, Section 221(e) (1) of the Internal Revenue Code provides that you may not also take a federal income tax deduction for any interest included in that education loan repayment.