When asking for money, identify the purpose of the gift. People feel
more comfortable giving money when they know that the money will be
used for a worthwhile purpose like paying for the child's college
education. Don't discuss too many details, other than the projected cost
of college and perhaps how much the parents have saved so far.
Do not ask for a specific amount of money, as it will make the giver
feel guilty if they can't afford to give that much. Asking for too
much money may also be considered rude and may offend some people. If
the giver asks you how much they should give, sidestep the question by
saying that whatever they can contribute will be appreciated. If they
insist on your naming a dollar figure, then it is ok to respond to
their question with a range of reasonable figures. Don't be greedy.
When asking for money, use only positive words. Self-deprecation
conveys negative connotations with the request for a gift and may
reduce your chances of getting a good gift. You may feel awkward, but
don't use language that assumes a "no" response. Keep it simple and
straightforward. Be polite. After you ask, stop talking. Don't try to
compensate for your awkwardness with constant chatter. Give them a
chance to respond. If they say no or maybe, don't keep asking. They
may already have bought a material gift or they may be unable to
contribute. Thank them regardless of their answer.
You can reduce the awkwardness of asking for money by letting someone
else do the asking on your behalf. This is more common at weddings
than at baby showers or birthday parties, but it is much less awkward
to have a friend or family member tell your guests about your gift
preferences. It distances you from the ask.
Many 529 college savings plans offer gift certificates as an option,
often dressing them up with a fancy personalized card or a gold
envelope. Some will send email to your friends and family to ask for
contributions on your behalf. You can also print contribution slips to
send to relatives who don't read email. For example, Upromise provides
the Ugift program
to help friends and family contribute to a child's college savings plan.
(According to Upromise Investments
the average gift is over $600, but contributions may be as low as $15.
Other 529 plans, like the Private College 529 Plan
require a $25 minimum contribution.)
There are no restrictions on who may contribute to a
child's 529 college savings plan account.
There are also several third party social networking college savings sites
that will ask your friends and family for contributions on your
behalf, but these sites all charge a fee for their services.
If someone is making the gift in person, it may be easier for them to
just write a check with "college savings plan" written on the purpose
Some people feel more comfortable giving a US savings bond instead of
cash or a check, since it is clearly designated for savings and the
savings bond has a more formal appearance. A US savings bond can be
held until maturity. Series EE and Series I bonds can also be rolled over
into a 529 college savings plan tax-free in certain circumstances.