Being a long time member of this forum, my story was on the prior sticky topic which seems to have dropped off as it looks like there's been a change in the forum format since the last time I visited.
In any case, I will re-post our story with current updates as it may be useful to others.
We began saving after our daughter was born in 1997. At first, we opened a UTMA with Fidelity and saved a little money there. We bought some McDonald's and Disney stock when they were both under $20/share in the early 2000s and also registered them as UTMA for our daughter.
We also opened a few 529 accounts when opportunities arose. At one time, CA offered cash bonuses for opening an account with them, so we did - I believe it was $100, but it was so long ago that I forget. I worked in NY for over 10 years, so we opened a NY 529 and funded it to take advantage of the tax deduction. The primary 529 we utilized was MA's UFund because it was through Fidelity and they offered a full 2% rebate on their credit card deposited to the 529. We've made no cash contributions to the 529 in over 10 years, yet having the credit card since 2002 and charging on average over $50,000/year along with a cooperating stock market has helped it grow nicely.
A little after we opened the UFund 529 account, I became extremely interested in pre-paid plans and in 2003 we opened an account with MA's UPlan as the list of participating schools was extensive, and we were very comfortable with their approach to backing the plan financially. Over the next 10 years, we bulked up on our contributions to the plan - every year my entire bonus and more would get put towards the plan. By the time our contributions stopped a few years ago, we had contributed enough to cover the full 4 year cost of all but a couple of the most expensive schools.
Now, the irony of the entire effort. Our daughter is a ballerina. Yes, like all young girls who take ballet classes, I was fully expecting it to wear off as she grew and found more interesting endeavors in life. However, this child was fully immersed in every aspect. She began taking higher level pre-professional training, she studied all the classic stories and works to a depth that most of us never would, has performed on stage at Lincoln Center with ABT, and so on.
At some point, I think when she was 14 or 15 the discussion happened as to what we were going to do as far as college and the ballet. My wife and I both agreed that we'd support her ballet endeavors as far as it would take her, with the stipulation that she gets her college degree along the way.
As we began considering the college options, we learned of the degree programs that Harvard offers through their extension school. This provided exactly what we were looking for - a flexible program where she could progress at her own pace, taking as many or as few classes each semester depending on her responsibilities, and in time come out of it with a Harvard degree. So, earlier this year, after taking one course per semester during the prior two years of high school, she met the admission requirements and was formally admitted.
And now for the irony - Harvard and their extension school are not part of the MA UPlan. However, even not using the funds for a participating school, we are getting back every dollar we contributed back to 2003 plus 2% return compounded annually. Over the past 3 years, as she's been taking courses, we have been paying for it with the funds in the UFund 529. The 529 money will likely cover her tuition for the entire degree program. The UPlan money (we are getting the second distribution in August) goes towards her training and living expenses now. There will likely be a significant amount of that money left over, which is fine - how many kids can say they graduated college having no debt plus a good chunk of money in their name?
So, the moral of my story is to simply be prepared. If you save the money and have it set aside, no matter what happens you will have flexibility for whatever curveball the future throws at you.