Although your child may have just returned home from college in the past few weeks, it’s probably on your radar to begin planning for your college payments for the upcoming semester in the fall or perhaps a summer program.

But what if attending a foreign university abroad is the plan for your child’s next semester. Spending a semester or year abroad at a foreign university is common for many US students; generally, an opportunity offered to students in their junior year at college. If your child will be attending a foreign university in the coming year, 529 plan distributions may still qualify to be used for foreign educational expenses. US universities that offer a study-abroad program will be 529-plan eligible to pay for those college costs as long as your child’s US college accepts the foreign university study-abroad academic credits. Additionally, if your child plans to attend all four years and be fully enrolled at a foreign university, as long as the foreign university participates in the US federal student aid program and such host school is approved by the US Department of Education then the foreign college costs would be 529-plan eligible as well.

Several hundred foreign educational institutions qualify to use 529 plan distributions. Parents and students can check this link provided by the savingforcollege.com website to determine if a student’s foreign (and US) educational institution qualify for the 529 funds to be used for education costs.

One final note on foreign college expenses and qualifying 529 plan distributions, travel costs related to attending the foreign university are not 529-plan eligible (qualifying) expenses. However, costs such as tuition & fees, books, and room & board are all 529-plan eligible expenses when used to pay for US study-abroad programs and for enrollment at a foreign university. A full list of qualifying and non-qualifying 529 plan distributions can be found on our website here.