When it comes to March Madness, college basketball fans know to expect the unexpected. Underdog upsets are in the air, especially if you’re rooting for New Jersey teams this year!
- Fairleigh Dickinson’s win over Purdue in the first round was the biggest upset in March Madness history. FDU was profiled as one of the worst teams in the country and didn’t win its conference, and it also has the smallest—that is, physically shortest—team in the tournament by a long shot. Somehow this makes beating Purdue (whose roster has a 7-foot-4-inch center) even sweeter.
- Princeton pulled off a huge upset against Arizona in the first round, the biggest upset victory by an Ivy League team since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Some are calling it the 10th biggest upset in the history of the tournament.
- Next, Princeton beat Missouri, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 56 years.
I love a March Madness stunner, but when it comes to paying for college, there should be no surprises. It pays to plan ahead. Each year, Columbia Threadneedle Investments puts together a College Cost Bracket. It lists the price of a degree from each school participating in the men’s March Madness tournament:
How do these school tuitions measure up?
According to Columbia Threadneedle, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost (tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, etc.) of a degree from a private 4-year college is $242,368. That’s not including student loan interest. As you can see in the chart below, that number is only going to increase with inflation.
In comparison, seven of the schools on this year’s bracket are over $300k!
Miami (FL): $316,080
Four more colleges sneak in just under that line, with tuition totals in the $290ks (Virginia, Furman, St. Mary’s, TCU).
Arizona ($231,708), and Missouri ($196,840) may have lost big on the basketball court this tournament, but they are crushing Princeton in the tuition game. Northwestern dominates the bracket this year with the only tuition cost exceeding $350k. Wow.
How am I supposed to pay for college?
One of the most powerful tools for college savings is a 529 plan for each child, which allows you to save money for education with no federal income tax on interest earned, and tax-free withdrawals on things considered “qualified expenses” at eligible schools.
What can a 529 plan pay for?
Columbia Threadneedle also compiled a handy list of all the things a 529 can pay for, and where it can be used:
Types of eligible institutions
- In-state and out-of-state colleges
- Public and private schools
- Vocational schools
- Technical and trade schools
- Certain international educational institutions
- Any public, private or religious elementary or
- secondary school (K–12)
- Apprenticeship programs registered and certified with the Department of Labor (DoL)
- Repayment of principal/interest on any qualified education loan up to a $10,000 lifetime limit for the designated beneficiary and/or sibling of the beneficiary
- Tuition and fees
- Books, supplies and equipment required for enrollment or attendance
- Room and board: On- or off-campus for students who are at least half-time
- Computer, peripheral equipment, software and internet access if used primarily by the beneficiary
- Special needs services as required by beneficiaries in connection with enrollment or attendance
- Fees, books, supplies and equipment required for participation in a DoL-registered and certified apprenticeship program
It can also be used to pay for tuition up to $10,000 per year per student in kindergarten through 12th grade, but remember—every dollar you spend before the college years is a dollar NOT compounding interest year-over-year in your account. If you can, leave the money there and let it grow!
If you’re interested in opening a 529 plan, we can help. Call the office to learn more.
Prior to investing in a 529 Plan investors should consider whether the investor’s or designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified tuition program. Withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. Please consult with your tax advisor before investing.