Is there anything you can do as a parent if you want to help your children graduate from college without a huge debt burden? Yes—with a bit of planning.

One option is a 529 plan (named for Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code that authorized them) which provides tax benefits in order to encourage saving for future college costs. They are sponsored by states, state agencies, and educational institutions and come in two types: prepaid tuition plans and college savings plans.

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