I am an 18 year old young adult. I’ve just graduated high school, and am enrolled in a college for the fall. The total tuition/room/board COA after some academic scholarships is just about $30k a year. My parents are divorced and the agreement has always been that we will each pay 1/3 of the total cost, with merit scholarships I earn counting towards my portion, such as my violin playing, or clubs, or essay competitions.
My grandfather invested in a 529 plan, but has since passed away and my mother is now the owner of the plan, with myself being the beneficiary. My mother is the custodial parent as I spend the majority of my time with her. Understandably the pressure of the money has been getting to her and things have been tense.
My question is one more of fairness or equality so to say in this situation. My grandfather made this account for me. For my college. My mother always thought her dad gave her the short straw so to say, which is very true. Her mother was the one paying for things for her and taking care of her. When I asked my mom who’s third we are taking the 529 out of, or if we will distribute it to bring the cost down for each of us, she said that she’s going to us the 529 to cover her portion, because her parents created it. I love my mother and to see her struggle through my parents divorce and to know about her childhood... I want something to go right for her... nothing has. But I can’t help but feel that it’s unfair that I will be paying off close to $40k in loans adding up all four years, plus interest, when the 529 is supposed to be for me. I’m not ungrateful, yes, the money will go to me and my education either way, but it seems wrong that my mother will count the 529 (which will cover (for her third) about 3 of the 4 years of my tuitions, at least the portion she will be responsible for). For her that means, realistically, if the value of the 529 stays consistent enough, and I know she has enough in savings, she can pay the $40k without loans. My father makes enough money to pay his $40k, (he thinks I don’t know this, but doesn’t plan on taking loans out). So in the end I’m left with all of the debt which, again, seems fair enough and I’m comfortable with it, but still trying to understand how it’s fair that my mother gets to count the entire 529 against her third. If anyone has some input or maybe a side to the discussion that I’m not seeing, please speak up. Thank you.