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How To Ask Friends and Family for Money for a Child's College Savings Plan

Mark Kantrowitz

May 12, 2011

It is still considered a bit rude to ask for contributions to the child’s college savings plan on formal invitations to a party, shower or reception. The purpose of an invitation is ask the guest to participate in your special occasion, not to solicit gifts. However, if you decide to mention your preferences on the invitation, the mention should be understated and very brief, near the RSVP line. For example, “Gifts to the child’s college savings plan are preferred”, “CHILD’S NAME participates in the ABC College Savings Plan” or “Please consider a contribution to XYZ charity or the child’s college savings plan instead of a gift.” Alternately, your gift preference could be mentioned in a lighthearted manner in a short poem enclosed with the invitation, such as the following:

If you wish to give a present
please grace us with your presence.
There’s no need for a trinket or a toy,
or other material gifts to our pride and joy.
But consider giving the gift of knowledge,
by helping us send CHILD’S NAME to college.

Another option is for friends and family to register with a loyalty rebating program like Upromise. They can arrange for the rebates they earn to be automatically contributed to your child’s 529 college savings plan.

People are more likely to contribute to a child’s college savings plan if they have a close personal connection with the child. Keep them up to date on the child’s milestones, hobbies, honors and awards. Many schools are now providing password-protected “portfolio” web sites that showcase special projects completed by the child.

Send a personalized handwritten thank you note when you receive a contribution to your child’s college savings plan, the same as you would for a more traditional gift. (You do send thank you notes, don’t you?) Sending a thank you encourages repeat gifts.

If someone contributed to your child’s college savings plan, invite them to the graduation party or reception when the child graduates from college.


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