Gifting Via UNIQUE a "Qualified State Tuition Program"

The State of New Hampshire maintains a program called the UNIQUE College Investing Plansm that allows people to make contributions to an account to pay for future education. Contributions to this qualified state tuition program are not deductible, and withdrawals are taxable only to the extent they are more than the amount contributed to the program.

What is a "Qualified State Tuition Program"?

A "qualified state tuition program" is one that is established and maintained by a state or agency and that:

1. Allows a person to:
     a. Buy tuition credits or certificates for a designated beneficiary who would then be entitled to a
         waiver or payment of qualified higher educational expenses, or
     b. Make contributions to an account that is set up to meet the qualified higher educational expenses
         of a designated beneficiary of the account (UNIQUE is set up this way),
2. Requires all purchases or contributions to be made only in cash,
3. Prohibits the contributor and the beneficiary from directing the amount invested,
4. Allows a rollover or a change of beneficiary to be made only between members of the same family
    (family includes sibling, half sibling, niece, nephew, parent, child, stepchild, grandparent, aunt, uncle,
     immediate in-law or the spouse of any of these family members),
5. Imposes a penalty on any refund of earnings that does not meet at least one of the following conditions.
    a. The amount is used for qualified higher educational expenses of the beneficiary.
    b. The refund is made because of the death or disability of the beneficiary.
    c. The refund is made because the beneficiary received (and the refund is not more than) a scholarship,
        a veterans educational assistance allowance, or another nontaxable payment (other than a gift,
        bequest, or inheritance) received for educational expenses.

What are "Qualified Higher Educational Expenses"?

Qualified higher educational expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies and equipment required for enrollment at an eligible education institution. Room and board are also included for students who are at least half-time.

What is an "Eligible Education Institution"?

An eligible education institution is any college, university, vocational school or other post-secondary educational institution in the United States. It does not include college preparatory school.

Where is Your Money Invested?

The State of New Hampshire selected Fidelity Investments to manage the program. "The money in an account is held in one of seven investment portfolios of the Trust. Each portfolio seeks capital appreciation with reasonable safety of principal, consistent with the ages of the beneficiaries. Each portfolio invests its assets in Fidelity Investments mutual funds." Investing at an early age would allow for more aggressive investments for early-on growth then a gradual switch to less aggressive investments as the time to withdraw gets closer.

What are the Investment Requirements and Contribution Limits?

The minimum investment is $1,000 unless you sign up for automatic payments. In the case of automatic payments the minimum is $50 per month. There are no restrictions on participation based on your income. Relatives and family friends can also open up accounts on behalf of the same beneficiary as long as the total amount in all accounts does not exceed the Plan limit of $109,825 per beneficiary.

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