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Big Spikes in Vocational School Enrollment

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This article about Vocational School Enrollment is presented by my529.

When 529 plan advocates encourage saving for higher education, they usually mean saving for college or university expenses. Vocational schools often—maybe too often—get overlooked.

That’s right. Vocational schools, which are experiencing big spikes in enrollment with their promise of well-paying careers, are eligible educational institutions where 529 funds can be used to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Money saved in a 529 plan can be used to pay expenses such as tuition, mandatory fees, books and even computers at any postsecondary institution—college, university, or vocational school—in the United States or abroad that participates in federal financial aid programs.

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It’s true that a college education can provide a substantial earnings dividend. The gap in median annual income between a high school graduate and someone with a college degree is $19,550, according to 2010 Census Bureau data.

Despite the premium that a college degree can deliver, there are other ways to attain a viable career without the outlay of money and time required to earn a college degree. There are 29 million jobs that pay between $35,000 and $75,000 a year for workers without bachelor’s degrees, according to a joint study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and educational consultant Civic Enterprises.

The study found that career and technical education (CTE) jobs have largely shifted from blue-collar occupations to white-collar and health care fields.

“For both men and women, the best CTE jobs are in sub-baccalaureate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and health care, where over 80 percent of jobs pay middle-class wages,” according to the study’s authors.

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The study contends that the nation’s career and technical education system, which includes vocational schools, “is the missing middle ground in American education and workforce preparation.”

Today, postsecondary certificates are the second most common higher educational achievement award after the bachelor’s degree, exceeding associate and master’s degrees, according to the study. About 1 million postsecondary certificates are awarded each year.

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You can learn how the my529 college savings plan works. The Program Description explains the investment options, rules on contributions and withdrawals, tax benefits, fees, and risks. Your investment could lose value. Except for the FDIC-insured option, my529 investments aren’t guaranteed.

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Investing is an important decision. Read the Program Description in its entirety for more information and consider all investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses before investing. The Program Description is available for download here, or a printed copy can be mailed to you by requesting it online

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However, my529 offers some investments insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which will guarantee that portion of your investment up to certain limits, as described below.

No Guarantees. Investments in my529 are not insured or guaranteed by my529, the Utah State Board of Regents, the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority or any other state or federal agency. Your investment could lose value. However, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance is provided for the FDIC-insured accounts. Please read the Program Description to learn about the FDIC-insured accounts. Units in my529 have not been registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission or with any state securities commission.

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