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College Advice

Are Dorm Supplies Covered by a 529 Plan?

DormEssentials November 20, 2020

If you are starting your college life and moving into a dorm, there is one habit that may make your undergrad life a bit easier- knowing about the 529 financial plan. College will a time tough on budget, and you will likely find yourself looking to land a job. There is no need to spend heaps of money on books, stationary or even computers for the dorms. These are dorm supplies covered by a 529. Universities allocate 529 plans for all students to support them financially and it includes many dorm items which you would need daily. In addition to 529, you need to remember that getting scholarships is a great way to be financially aided through college. Read on to know which dorm supplies are covered by a 529 plan and make your life a tad bit relieved, and make sure to double check with your school or plan administrators if you are unsure or want to verify something before buying.


What is the 529 Plan? 

529 is a financial plan to assist you in paying education costs. It’s a money-saving plan to be exact, legally known as qualified tuition plans, and this tax-advantaged plan is sponsored by states, educational institutes like college and universities. This plan covers all the direct and indirect expenses incurred during the time of acquiring education, which means it includes educational expenses and fees along with dorm fees.

There are two types of 529 plans- savings program and prepaid program. Saving program can allow you to vail the benefits of 529 in any eligible educational institutes, whereas prepaid programs are suited for private or out-of-state institutions.

529 plans can vary within institutes as well as in states. So, before you apply for a 529 plan and decide which dorm supplies are suitable to cover, consider reading about the eligibility and duration of it on websites such as College Savings Plan Network.


What are Qualified and Non-Qualified Expenses? 

Qualified expenses are expenses fully covered by the 529 plan, and non-qualified expenses are those that are not covered. In qualified expenses, you are not needed to pay any taxes while making a purchase. The tax benefits given by the 529 plans are only available for qualified expenses. Colleges differ a lot on defining what is qualified and non-qualified, so always check the list of items covered under this section.

What are the Essential Dorm Supplies

Dorm supplies mean all the necessary items you will need for leading an everyday life. Some colleges provide a lot of things, but students bring most things. So, what are the typical supplies for a dorm?

Let’s split them into a few categories.


Dorm bed and beddings, armchairs, desks, stools, bookshelves, cupboards, storage bins hangers- these are all dorm room furniture. Many of these are supplied or covered by college authorities, but you can bring extra items.

General Electronics Items

Cellphones, fans, televisions, mini-fridges, toolkits, air condition or heating systems, desk lamps, lights etc., are electronic items for general use. Few of them may be covered by college depending on regulations.

Office Supplies

Office supplies such as printers, printing paper, pens and pencils, pencil holders, staplers, paper clips, envelopes etc., are often needed in dorms.

Books and Notebooks

Books are the most important component of a college dorm. Any textbook items, magazines, journals, and notebooks are included in this category and usually covered by the college through 529 or scholarships.

Laundry and Linens

Bedsheets, pillows and pillow covers, comforters, towels, mattress, etc., are included in this category. Electronics such as washing machines or ingredients like detergents, brush are also integrated into this type. Laundry bags, hangers, lint brushes are also very important dorm supplies.

Computers and Tech Items

Laptops, desktops, speakers, microphones or headphones, cables, and cords are all included under the computer and tech items.



How Much Does It Cost to Set Up a Dorm? 

According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, college students in the state spend about $836 on various dorm supplies such as clothing, electronics, dorm furniture, etc. Some of them may be covered by a 529 plan, but due to lack of information regarding this (or perhaps laziness), students forget to avail this benefit.


What Dorm Supplies are Covered by a 529 Plan? 

Here are the dorm supplies covered by 529 plan, also known as qualified expenses under the plan. 

Room and Board 

529 plan covers the room and board expenses in the form of monthly allowances. The housing which is on-campus is considered as a qualified expense, but off-campus housing or dorm rooms may not be entirely covered. 

Although it’s not directly related to dorm supplies, it’s important to know anyway that a 529 plan covers the housing cost. It may give you an idea about how the plan works and if some of the dorm supplies are integrated into this allowance. Check with your campus coordinator to clear this issue.

Textbooks and Other Relevant Supplies 

Textbooks or any types of study materials which may be needed to fulfil for education is included in the 529 plan. However, some colleges are specific about which books are covered in this expense and the amount allowable for the designated academic year. So, talk to the college representatives for a clear idea. If you need to have some special tools, lab equipment for educational purposes, they are also taken care of through this plan.

Printing and Paper Supplies 

Worried if you need to pay for printing your lengthy assignments from your pocket? Well, there’s good news. Printing papers, printers, staplers, and other supplies like these are dorm supplies covered by a 529. Basic items such as pen, pencils, and erasers are covered too. To reiterate, college authority will sponsor all the cost of items directly involved with your education.

Special Need Equipment 

If you require special need equipment, 529 plans generally include them as well. Transportation aids such as wheelchair, stretchers, or any specialized wearables – all of them are included in the 529 plan.

Computer and Technology 

Computer items and other technology items relevant to education are dorm supplies covered by 529 plans without any limitations. It includes laptops, hard disks, desktops, accessories, cables, notepads, and so on. College 529 plans also provide you with important software needed for your courses and internet services such as ISP fees, Wi-Fi routers, amplifiers, etc.

Dorm Room Furniture 

Last but not least- dorm room furniture. Most of these are dorm supplies covered by a 529 plan sponsored by your college. Dorms usually provide you with a bed, study table, and a cupboard or hanger to stack your clothes. Items essential for living the dorm life and for continuing studies are all included in the plan. But if you want to buy extra furniture for added comfort, it has to be funded by you.


Dorm Supplies That Can’t Be Covered by 529

Sport Supplies & Club Memberships

The 529 plans do not cover sports items, which means if you want to have skateboard, footballs, basketballs- these won’t be exempted through 529 plans. Same goes for gym accessories; any accessories of such are excluded as it’s not directly related to educational journey. However, your university will usually gyms and other courts for sports, so instead of buying, you can utilize the benefits on campus. Membership in clubs or sports like rowing and fraternities or sororities dues are largely not qualified.

Cell Phones and Other Household Electronics 

529 plans do not cover dorm supplies which are usually for personal use. Cell phones are one of those items. If you are considering buying other electronics such as a rice cooker or a mini-fridge, these are also excluded from the plan. 

Personal Items for Lifestyle & Transportation

As you have guessed by now, 529 financially assists only costs related to performing your educational duties. Anything more or irrelevant to that is not covered. While living in a dorm, we may need extra items for our personalized use. Personal items for entertainment such as a TV, monitors, transports, musical instruments, etc., are not included in the list. Clothing and grocery items are also not included, as well as any grocery items.


Beware of Some Ifs and Buts 

Some of the aspects may seem confusing as their dorm supplies which are partially covered by 529 plans. For instance, a bicycle for going to classes or labs may be included in the plan. Many colleges include transportation fees for on-campus, but as mentioned earlier, it will vary. So, carefully read the ifs and buts to know which are the dorm supplies covered by a 529.


What if I Live Off Campus?

You can still use the 529 plan for dorm supplies in off-campus housings. Colleges have set allowance for housing such as rents, utilities, and other services. However, at times there are reimbursement limits. As for dorm supplies, most of the necessary items should be covered by the college just as for on-campus. The only problem is it may not be available at some places, so check with your college personnel to clear it out. The transportation fees to and from campus and your off-campus housing usually are also not covered by your 529 plan.


Final Words

Saving money during college days is a great habit and a 529 financial plan can help you carry the expenses. While buying dorm supplies, understanding which items are qualified and non-qualified expenses can help you fix your monthly budget, so that you can live a less stressful college life.


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