Sen. Mike Cunningham’s Legislative Column for Aug. 17, 2018

Cunningham Updated Banner March 2017

Legislative Column for Aug. 17, 2018

Higher education plays an important role in every child’s future. Planning and saving for the rising costs of higher education is something most families strive to do. Thankfully, Missouri offers the MOST 529 Savings Plan that allows families to efficiently save for college.

When used for higher education expenses at an eligible, postsecondary school, money saved through a MOST 529 account can be used to pay for tuition, as well as room and board (with limitations). Books, school supplies, fees and other equipment that are required for enrollment or attendance also qualify as higher education expenses. Computers, internet access and computer software are also considered higher education expenses as long as the items are used primarily by the student during enrollment or attendance at any eligible, postsecondary school.

Just about anyone can open a 529 account—parents, grandparents, other relatives and friends. As an account owner, you’ll pick investments, assign a beneficiary and determine how the money is used. You can also benefit from a tax deduction if you’re a Missouri resident.

A beneficiary is the future student, or the person an account is opened for. The only rule is that the beneficiary must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien with a valid Social Security number or a taxpayer identification number.

As of 2018, qualified expenses also included 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, Missouri taxpayers can use MOST 529 plans to pay for K–12 tuition, with no state tax consequences.

During the 2018 legislative session, lawmakers truly agreed and finally passed Senate Bill 882, which allows families to transfer money from a MOST 529 account to a Missouri Achieving a Better Life Experience (MO ABLE) savings account without a tax penalty. MO ABLE savings accounts aim to empower Missourians living with disabilities to save and invest in tax free savings accounts without losing eligibility for federal programs such as Medicaid. This account allows families to save and plan for expensive health care, transportation and other related expenses.

By allowing the transfer to occur without a tax penalty, a family who receives an unexpected diagnosis that changes their life plan has more options in order to make smart, financial decisions for their child’s future. This is a great opportunity for Missouri families who have children with disabilities to improve their child’s quality of life, while also creating future opportunities for their child to become self-sufficient.

For more information about Missouri’s MOST 529 Savings Plan, please visit:

As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.