Utah Educational Savings Plan

College Savings for Grandparents

As a grandparent, you want the best for your grandchildren, including helping them receive the best education possible. If you want to save for your grandchildren’s higher education, opening a Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) account is a great way. In fact, grandparents own approximately 20 percent of UESP accounts.

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You're in control

As the account owner, you remain in control of the account even though your grandchild is listed as the beneficiary on the account. You determine the investment option and the contribution amounts, and request the withdrawals.

You can contribute systematically or for special occasions

There is no minimum contribution requirement to save with UESP. You can make monthly contributions or contribute funds for special occasions such as birthdays and holidays. UESP has an online feature, Special Occasion Contributions, that as an account owner, allows you to set up annual contributions for a birthday, holiday, or for another special event for your beneficiary. Click here to learn about other methods of contributing to your grandchildren’s UESP account.

If you prefer not to open a UESP account for your grandchild, you can still contribute to an existing account that has a different account owner. To do this, mail a check to UESP with the UESP account number and beneficiary’s name written on the front. However, if you contribute to an account you do not own, you:

  • Cannot control how your contribution is invested
  • Will have no future control over the use of your contribution
  • May forego federal or state tax benefits for a contribution made to an account for which you are not the account owner

You can invite others to give gifts

To enroll in the UESP Gift Program, go to Account Access and select Gift Program. You will receive a unique gift code and link to your personal gift page. Share with family and friends to give a meaningful gift to your grandchild.

You can send a gift notice

You can also use the UESP Gift Notice. After you download the Gift Notice, give your grandchild the bottom portion to let him or her know you made the contribution. Complete and send the top portion with your contribution check to UESP.

You receive the tax benefits as a UESP account owner

  • Tax-free earnings. Earnings in your UESP account will grow tax-deferred from federal or Utah state income taxes on the earnings. Withdrawals are exempt from federal and Utah state income taxes when used for qualified higher education expenses.

  • Utah state income tax credit. While saving with UESP helps financially prepare your grandchildren for future college expenses, many Utah taxpayers choose to save with UESP because of the Utah state income tax credit available to them.

    For the 2016 tax year, Utah individual taxpayers/residents and trusts may claim a 5 percent Utah state income tax credit on eligible contributions up to $1,900 per qualified beneficiary, equaling up to $95. For taxpayers married filing jointly, the 5 percent credit may be claimed for eligible contributions of up to $3,800 per qualified beneficiary, equaling up to $190. Utah corporations are eligible for a tax deduction up to $1,900 in eligible contributions per qualified beneficiary. To qualify for the credit or deduction, the beneficiary on the account must have been designated as such before age 19. Account owners may contribute more or less than the maximum Utah state income tax benefit amounts; these amounts are the maximum allowable contributions for claiming the Utah state income tax benefits.

    If the account is eligible for the tax savings, the account owner can continue to claim the tax savings for each year’s contributions—for the life of the account. And as long as the account owner is a Utah taxpayer/resident, the account owner can claim the tax benefits no matter where the beneficiary lives—even in another state or country.

  • Special gift tax exclusion. Money contributed to UESP is treated as a completed gift to the beneficiary for federal estate and gift tax purposes.

    Normally, up to $14,000 ($28,000 if filing jointly) may be gifted from one individual to another each year without incurring gift tax liability. A special provision for 529 plans allows an individual to give $70,000 ($140,000 if married filing jointly) to a single beneficiary in one year without creating a taxable gift, as long as the individual makes an election to treat the entire gift as a series of five equal annual gifts. This means that a $70,000 five-year averaging election counts as a series of five $14,000 contributions, and a $140,000 five-year averaging election counts as a series of five $28,000 joint contributions. However, the individual cannot make any additional gifts to that beneficiary during the five-year period without being subject to federal gift tax rules.

You can let others view your account—Interested Parties

The Interested Parties feature allows you to let your grandchildren, the parents of your grandchildren, or other individuals you select to have online access to one or more of your UESP accounts. An interested party has read-only access to view transaction history, account owner and beneficiary names and addresses, successor and secondary successor account owner names, investment options, account balances, and quarterly account statements. UESP will not give account information to interested parties through email, fax, letter, or over the phone. The interested party can only view account information online, and cannot make changes to the account or initiate a transaction. You can turn off interested party access anytime.

To grant interested parties access to your UESP account:

  1. Go to uesp.org and log in to Account Access.
  2. Select Shared Access/Interested Parties.
  3. Select Add an Interested Party and fill in the information.
  4. Follow the directions on the screen to obtain an initial authorization PIN that the interested party needs to access the UESP account for the first time. The PIN expires in 10 days.

Go to the UESP Program Description, Part 3 | Program Participation Information for more information.

You can also set up Interested Parties access by completing UESP’s Interested Party Authorization form (form 120). Call 800.418.2551 or email info@uesp.org to request a copy of the form.