Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP)

Frequently Asked Questions

About 529 Plans

Q:
What is a 529 plan?

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to save for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, room and board. 529 refers to Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Q:
What if my child decides not to attend college?

If the beneficiary does not attend college, the account owner may change the beneficiary to another eligible family member. If funds are withdrawn for a purpose other than qualified higher education expenses, the earnings portion of the withdrawal is subject to federal and state taxes plus a 10% additional federal tax on earnings (the “Additional Tax”). See the Program Information and Details section for more information and exceptions.

Q:
How do 529 Plans vary?

529 plans vary in a number of ways, including contribution limits to the account (defined by the states), fees to open and maintain an account, in-state tax treatments such as a state tax deduction, investment options offered, and the program manager. There may also be other differences, such as special programs or benefits defined by the particular plan. Before investing in a 529 plan, you should consider whether the state where you or your designated beneficiary reside or have taxable income, offers favorable state income tax or other benefits that are only available if you invest in that state’s 529 plan.

Q:
How does a 529 plan compare to other college savings options?
Q:
If I move out of Michigan, what will happen to my account?

If you move to another state, you can keep your money invested and continue making contributions to your MESP account. Before investing in a 529 plan, you should consider whether the state where you or your designated beneficiary reside or have taxable income offers favorable state tax treatment or other benefits if you invest in that state’s 529 plan.

Q:
How do I open an MESP account or contribute to an existing account?

You can help a loved one pay for the rising costs of college by opening an MESP account or by making a gift contribution to an existing account. Accounts can be opened online, or by downloading enrollment materials, or by requesting an enrollment kit by mail. To contribute to an existing account, follow the Gift instructions.

Q:
How do I transfer account ownership?

You may transfer ownership of your MESP account at any time. Please note this assignment is an irrevocable action transferring all rights, title and interest in the account to another owner. You will no longer have access to or control of the account.

Account Management

Q:
What is the status of my contribution?

To view your transaction history, log in to your account, click “View Details” for your beneficiary, and scroll down to the transactions section. You can always speak to one of our college savings specialists at 1-877-861-6377, Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

Q:
Are there any fees associated with opening an Michigan Education Savings Program account?

With the Michigan Education Savings Program, there are no sales charges, start-up or maintenance fees. To review the current total annual asset-based fees, which are comprised of the underlying investment expenses for each Investment Option, the Program Manager fee, and state administration fee, please see fees and expenses.

Q:
Do I have to use my account at a Michigan college or university?

No. The funds in your account may be used at any eligible educational institution in the United States and some abroad. This includes public and private colleges and universities, trade schools, graduate schools, and professional schools.

For more on qualifying expenses and the state tax treatment of withdrawals for these expenses, refer to Program Details and Information.

Q:
How can I change bank information, change my address, or other account information?

To update your profile information online, including payment information, login here or call the Program at 1-877-861-6377, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

Q:
Do I need an account for each child?

Individual 529 accounts have one owner and one named beneficiary.

Q:
Can I rollover funds from another 529 plan into a Michigan Education Savings Program account?

Yes, you can transfer funds from another 529 college savings plan to your MESP account for the same beneficiary once within a 12-month period without incurring a taxable event. The 529 plan from which you are transferring funds may be subject to different features, costs and surrender charges. You should consult your tax advisor or the other 529 college savings plan. State and local taxes may apply. For more information see: How to Manage an Incoming Rollover from another 529 Account.

Q:
Can I deposit a refund for dropped courses back into my MESP account?

Yes - funds may be redeposited to your account within 60 days of the refund without penalty should a student need to withdraw from a class. The recontributed amount cannot exceed the amount of the refund.

Beneficiaries

Q:
Who can be the beneficiary of an account?

Anyone with a valid Social Security number or Taxpayer Identification number can be the beneficiary, including the account owner.

Q:
Can my beneficiary have more than one Michigan Education Savings Program account?

Yes, a beneficiary may have more than one Michigan Education Savings Program account. However, an account owner can have only one account for each beneficiary.

For example, a beneficiary may have an account owned by their parent, and/or their grandparent, and/or their aunt, etc. There is an overall maximum account balance limit of $500,000 which applies to all accounts opened for a beneficiary.

Q:
Can I change the beneficiary of my account?

Yes, you can change your beneficiary at any time or transfer a portion of your investment to a different eligible beneficiary. The new beneficiary must be an eligible member of the previous beneficiary’s family. For more information see: Change your beneficiary.

Investments

Q:
Where do I get information on Michigan Education Savings Program performance?

Performance data for the MESP investment options is available here: Historical Data.

Q:
What are my investment choices?

MESP offers you a choice of investment options. These options vary in investment strategy and degree of risk, allowing you to select an option or combination of options that fit your needs. To see the list of investment options, brief descriptions and associated fees and expenses, visit Researching Investments. For more information on the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses, read the Program Description (PDF).

Q:
Can I change my investment selection?

Yes, each time you make a contribution you may select from any of the MESP investment options. Once invested in a particular option, contributions and earnings may be transferred to another option twice per calendar year or upon transfer of funds to a Program account for a different eligible beneficiary (see the Program Description for more information). To transfer funds between options, log in to your MESP account, click “View Details” for your beneficiary, then choose “Change investment options.” You may also request and submit by mail the Change of Investment Form.

Contributions

Q:
Are MESP contributions deductible from federal tax?

No, 529 plan contributions are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Q:
Are contributions made pre-tax or after-tax to an MESP account?

Program contributions are always made after-tax.

Q:
What is the maximum I can contribute to an account?

There is no maximum contribution amount. However, there is an overall maximum account balance limit of $500,000, which applies to all accounts opened for a beneficiary in the Michigan Education Savings Program. Accounts that have reached the maximum account balance limit may continue to accrue earnings.

Q:
How do I contribute to an MESP account?

You can contribute to an MESP account by one of the following: check, an electronic funds transfer, establishing a recurring contribution, establishing payroll direct deposit, or a rollover from another 529 College Savings Program Account, Coverdell Education Savings Account or qualified U.S. savings bond. Your contribution will be invested according to your Allocation instructions. For more information, click here.

Q:
How do I sign up for payroll direct deposit?

If you wish to make contributions to your MESP account from your paycheck, first ask your employer if payroll direct deposit is available, then log in to your MESP account and follow the "Payroll Direct Deposit" instructions found by clicking the Profile & Documents link.

Please see our Forms & Resources page for more payroll direct deposit information.

Online Access

Q:
I forgot my username?

If you have forgotten your Username, please click here.

Q:
I forgot my password?

If you have forgotten your password, please tell us your user name and registered e-mail address here.

Q:
How do I change my password?

To change your password, log in here, choose a beneficiary and select "Profile and Documents," then "Password & Security Features" from the left hand navigation.

Q:
I forgot BOTH my username and password?

If you have forgotten both your Username and password, first retrieve your Username by clicking here. Once you have received your Username, log in, and you can log in with a temporary password.

Q:
How do I unlock my account?

If your account has been locked, please contact the Program at 1-877-861-6377, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET. We can assist you with unlocking your account. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Q:
How do I sign up for e-Delivery?

To sign up for e-delivery, log in here, choose a beneficiary and select "Profile and Documents," then "Delivery Preferences" from the left hand navigation.

Taxes

Q:
Is there a Michigan income tax deduction?

Michigan taxpayers may also be eligible for a Michigan income tax deduction on contributions made to MESP up to $10,000 for married couples filing jointly or $5,000 for individuals filing single per year. A Michigan taxpayer is permitted a deduction from Michigan adjusted gross income for a contribution to an account less any Qualified Withdrawals made during the tax year. Amounts transferred from another 529 college savings plan are not eligible for the Michigan income tax deduction.

You should talk to a qualified tax advisor about how Michigan tax provisions affect your circumstances.

Q:
What are the federal and state tax advantages?

When you contribute to the Michigan Education Savings Program, your account earnings can grow federal and Michigan income tax-deferred until withdrawn. In addition, distributions used to pay for qualified higher education expenses will be free from federal and Michigan income tax.

Q:
What are the federal estate and gift tax benefits?

Contributions to a MESP account may help reduce the taxable value of your estate. For more information about gifting, please click here.

Q:
How are withdrawals for non-qualified expenses taxed?

The earnings portion of a non-qualified withdrawal is subject to state and federal income tax and the 10% federal penalty tax on earnings (the “Additional Tax”). See the Program Description for details.

Q:
How are withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses taxed?

If you are taking a withdrawal to pay for qualified higher education expenses of the beneficiary, there will be no federal or state income tax. Find out how to make a withdrawal.

Financial Aid/Scholarships

Q:
Will saving with a 529 Plan affect my eligibility for financial aid?

Assets in a parent owned 529 account have less of an impact on financial aid than some other savings methods. "Expected Family Contribution" (EFC) calculations generally factor parent assets outside of retirement savings at approximately 5% whereas student assets are generally factored in at 20% or more. Therefore, a parent owned 529 account has less of an impact on financial aid eligibility than assets owned by the student.

For more information, please click here.

Q:
What if my child gets a full or partial scholarship?

If the beneficiary receives a scholarship that covers the cost of qualified expenses, you can withdraw the funds from your account up to the amount of the scholarship without incurring the 10% federal penalty tax on the earnings portion. However, the earnings portion will be subject to federal and state income tax. If the amount withdrawn exceeds the amount of the scholarship, the earnings portion of the amount withdrawn will be subject to the additional 10% federal penalty tax. Please consult with a qualified tax advisor or consultant.

Withdrawals

Q:
How do I withdraw money to pay for college?

You may request a withdrawal via your account online. Select the beneficiary you would like to withdraw the money for, click "Make a Withdrawal" on the left hand navigation and follow the directions. Alternatively, you may request a withdrawal by using the Withdrawal Request Form.

Q:
What is a taxable withdrawal?

Examples of Taxable Withdrawals are: a beneficiary’s death, permanent disability, receipt of a scholarship award, or attendance at a military academy. A taxable withdrawal will be subject to applicable state and federal income tax on earnings, if any, but will not be subject to the 10% additional federal penalty tax on earnings (the "Additional Tax").

See the Program Description for additional information.

Q:
What is the status of my withdrawal?

To view your transaction history, log in to your account or contact the Program at 1-877-861-6377, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET.

Q:
What are qualified higher education expenses?

Qualified higher education expenses include: tuition, certain room and board expenses, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for the enrollment and attendance of the Beneficiary at an eligible educational institution, which includes most post-secondary institutions. Computers and related technology such as internet access fees, software or printers are also qualified education expenses when used primarily by the beneficiary when enrolled at an eligible educational institution.

Qualified higher education expenses also include certain additional enrollment and attendance costs at eligible educational institutions of a beneficiary with special needs.

Q:
What room and board expenses are covered?

The beneficiary must be enrolled at least half time at an eligible post-secondary institution. For students living in housing owned and operated by the institution, the full invoice amount will be used to determine the qualified room and board expenses. For those students living at home or in off-campus housing, the "cost of attendance" allowance for the individual institution will be used for the qualified room and board expenses.

Q:
Are computers, tablets and associated costs considered qualified higher education expenses?

Computers and related technology such as internet access fees, software or printers are also qualified education expenses. The student must be the primary user of the equipment.

Q:
How do I know which educational institutions are eligible?

Contact your school to determine if it qualifies as an eligible educational institution or use the Federal School Code Search on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.

Q:
Is paying off a student loan considered a qualified higher education expense?

Federal tax treatment of 529 plan qualified higher education expenses or QHEEs includes the repayment of up to $10,000 (including principal and interest) on any qualified education loan of either a 529 plan designated beneficiary or a sibling of the designated beneficiary. To be a qualified expense, the loan repayment amount for an individual is subject to a lifetime limit of $10,000.

Please see the state tax treatment of withdrawals used toward student loan repayment here.

Q:
What is a non-qualified withdrawal?

A non-qualified withdrawal is any withdrawal that does not meet the requirements of being: (1) a qualified withdrawal; (2) a taxable withdrawal; or (3) a rollover. The earnings portion of a non-qualified withdrawal is subject to state and federal income taxation, and the additional 10% federal penalty tax. See the Program Information and Details section for more information.

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