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Financial Friday: What Is a 529 Account?

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., Stetson University professor

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D.

A 529 account is a college savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. Savings can be used for tuition, books and other education-related expenses.

For those who have this special 529 savings account for education, you can withdraw these funds tax-free to pay for off-campus housing, provided that you are enrolled at least half-time and spend the same or less than what the university includes as room-and-board in the cost of attendance. This amount is available on the Office of Student Financial Planning website.

Betty Thorne, Ph.D.

Food and routine utilities also count as tax-free, subject to these same conditions.


Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., is chair of the Accounting Department and associate professor of taxation and accounting. Betty Thorne, Ph.D., is a professor of statistics and the Christian R. Lindback Chair of Business Administration. They write Financial Fridays to bolster students’ financial wellness, including preventing financial mistakes, safeguarding their assets and identity, and thinking critically about financial decisions. For questions, contact Valrie Chambers at Valrie.chambers@stetson.edu