529 plansCoverdell ESAU.S. savings bondsCustodial account
Participation restrictionsNo, though state-run prepaid tuition plans are generally limited to state residentsYes, income limit for contributions and $2,000 maximum annual contribution per childNo, but ability to exclude bond proceeds from federal income tax depends on incomeNo
Control of underlying investmentsNoYesYesYes
Federal tax-free withdrawals if funds are used for qualified education expensesYes (withdrawals may also be exempt from state income tax, depending on state law)Yes (withdrawals may also be exempt from state income tax, depending on state law)Yes, but income limits and other requirements must be met (bond proceeds are generally exempt from state income tax)No
Penalty if funds are not used for qualified education expensesYes, a 10 percent federal penalty applies to the earnings portion of all nonqualified withdrawals (a state penalty may also apply)Same as 529 plansNo, but the bond proceeds won’t be exempt from federal income taxNo, but withdrawals from the account can only be made for the child’s benefit
Federal financial aid treatment (student assets are weighed more heavily than parent assets)Parent asset, if parent or student is account owner, or if 529 plan was funded with custodial account fundsParent asset, if parent is account ownerParent asset, if parent is owner of bondsStudent asset
Fees and expensesCollege savings plan: typically an annual maintenance fee, administration fees, and investment expenses based on a percentage of total account value

Prepaid tuition plan: typically an enrollment fee and various administrative fees

There may be fees associated with opening and/or maintaining an account, depending on financial institutionNo fees or expenses, except for the possibility of brokerage fees if bonds are purchased through a brokerThere may be fees associated with opening and/or maintaining an account, depending on financial institution

Note: Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with 529 plans carefully before investing. More information about 529 plans is available in the issuer’s official statement, which should be read carefully before investing. Also, before investing, consider whether your state offers a 529 plan that provides residents with favorable state tax benefits. As with other investments, there are generally fees and expenses associated with participation in a 529 savings plan. There is also the risk that the investments may lose money or not perform well enough to cover college costs as anticipated.

Note: The availability of the tax or other benefits mentioned above may be conditioned on meeting certain requirements