Join our membership

Join a nationwide consortium of private colleges and universities dedicated to affordability for all families.

Over twenty years ago, a group of private colleges and universities organized under the name Tuition Plan Consortium to found the nation’s only prepaid tuition plan owned and operated by its member institutions — what would become Private College 529 Plan.

Today, the Plan has nearly 300 schools nationwide committed to tuition affordability. With the next 20 years ahead of us, we look forward to continued growth so families everywhere can see that private college is possible.



With Private College 529 Plan, families prepay tuition and mandatory fees at the current rate for each college in the Plan. What they're buying are Tuition Certificates, which can be redeemed at any school in the Plan — and any that join in the future — as long as a student is enrolled.

Regardless of when you join the Plan, families can bring their prepaid tuition to your institution, potentially savings them thousands of dollars on the cost of college and resulting in immediate payouts to your school.

How do Tuition Certificates work?

During each plan year (July – June), a family can make contributions to their account, which lock in a percentage of a year of tuition at each school in the Plan. At the end of the plan year, all contributions aggregate into the purchase of a Tuition Certificate. The value of the Tuition Certificate will vary depending on the current rate of tuition at each school in the Plan.

For example, if Nancy contributes $10,000 to her account throughout the plan year, her Tuition Certificate will equal a third of a year of tuition at College A where current annual tuition is $30,000, and a quarter of a year at College B where current annual tuition is $40,000.

No matter how much tuition increases at Colleges A and B, Nancy will always own these percentages of tuition (33.33% at College A and 25% at College B).

Can families use Tuition Certificates at a college that joins the Plan after they're purchased?

Yes. Participating schools are required to honor Tuition Certificates that were purchased before they joined, based on the tuition rate charged by that school for the academic year during which the Tuition Certificate was purchased. Participating schools guarantee Tuition Certificates for 30 years from the time of purchase, regardless of whether the school participated at the time the Tuition Certificate was purchased.

Do families need to choose a college when opening an account?

No. Families do not need to know where their child is going when they open an account. Their prepaid tuition can be used at any current or future participating school as long as the student is enrolled.

How quickly can a family redeem their Tuition Certificates?

Tuition Certificates must be held for 36 months from the issue date before they can be redeemed to pay for tuition at a participating school. The issue date is the first date during a plan year that a purchase of a Tuition Certificate is made.

Is there a minimum contribution amount for families?

Families can open an account with as little as $25, and contributions to the Plan are flexible. Families can set up monthly, quarterly or annual automatic payments, or contribute a lump sum from a tax refund, bonus, inheritance, etc. The Plan requires that families contribute a minimum of $500 within the first two years of opening an account; otherwise, we will refund families the purchase amount without interest, and the contract will be terminated.

When a family redeems their Tuition Certificates, how does my college bill the student?

Your college will bill the current year tuition and fee rate it charges to all students. The family uses their prepaid tuition (Tuition Certificates) to pay for all or a portion of tuition and mandatory fees. The tuition value the family redeems is based on how long they’ve saved in the Plan and how much prepaid tuition they’ve locked in.

I can confidently say that being part of Private College 529 Plan just makes sense.

I can confidently say that being part of Private College 529 Plan just makes sense. My institution's membership sends a strong message: We want to help families save for college. The risk is low, and there's something special about hundreds of colleges coming together to demonstrate their commitment to affordability. Plus, as someone saving in the Plan, I trust my grandson will have what he needs for the future.

Ed Kania, VP of Business and Finance, Rollins College


5 reasons schools join the Plan

1. Provide affordability
We understand that affordability is a shared concern for both you and families saving for college. By joining our membership, your institution not only demonstrates a commitment to affordability but also becomes a part of a larger community that is actively managing the cost of higher education. This collective effort, visible to the public, media and policymakers, helps families achieve a quality private education, a goal we all share.

2. Enhance and strengthen alum connections
Your alumni are some of your biggest fans, so it’s no surprise when they want to see their children or grandchildren attend their alma mater. With Private College 529 Plan, you can support your alumni as they continue or establish a legacy at your college while deepening their affiliation by offering a smart way to prepare for future college costs.

3. Help ease the middle-income “squeeze”
Middle-income families face challenges when it comes to paying for college. They may struggle to afford tuition on their own, yet they often make too much money to qualify for federal financial aid. Private College 529 is a perfect way to help these families prepare for college costs.

4. Showcase your expertise
With so much noise surrounding the college planning, saving and financing process, families are seeking guidance from true experts like yourselves. Through our parent brand, CollegeWell, we provide opportunities to engage families through educational content that positions you as an expert in college planning and financing and highlights your commitment to providing exceptional guidance for all families.

5. Reach prospective students
Our Plan is unique because many of our savers are committed to the private college path. They recognize the exceptional opportunities available through the schools in our Plan. By becoming a member, some of the work to reach prospective students is done for you. Starting in 2024, Private College 529 Plan will begin accepting enrollments from international families, giving your institution access to a high-demand population.


From small liberal arts colleges to large STEM universities, there are nearly 300 participating schools in the Plan. See the full list here.



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We know we’re in good company

As a member institution of Private College 529 Plan, Wentworth is able to get in front of families serious about pursuing a private education. So, from an enrollment standpoint, early exposure to these students is a smart move. Plus, we know we’re in good company with hundreds of other schools also committed to affordability.

Kristin Tichenor, Senior VP, Enrollment Management, Wentworth Institute of Technology


As the only 529 plan owned and operated by colleges and universities, we understand the unique challenges facing higher education these days. Our board members bring a wealth of experience, and they have set the Plan on a course for growth and success.

Board of Directors 2023-2024

Ed Kania
Chair of the Board
Rollins College

Kim Downs-Burns
Vice Chair of the Board
Middlebury College

Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings
Secretary and Treasurer
Oberlin College

Thomas Bear
Rose-Hulman Institute
of Technology

Rakesh Dahiya
Southern Methodist University

F. Robert Huth, Jr.
Stetson University – Retired

Jason Knoch
Princeton University

Ralph Kuncl
University of Redlands – Retired

Patricia Langer
Macalester College

John Latting
Emory University

Phil Levine
Wellesley College

Thomas McWhorter
Northeastern University

Mary Nucciarone
University of Notre Dame

Fred Rogers
Carleton College – Retired

Audrey Smith
Smith College – Retired

Ronne’ Patrick Turner
Washington University in St. Louis

Tim Warner
Stanford University

Lori White
DePauw University

Our history, 20 years and counting

The first prepaid college savings vehicle is established.

U.S. Congress enacts Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

U.S. Congress passes legislation making qualified distributions from 529 plans tax-exempt and permitting “colleges and their consortia” to sponsor prepaid tuition plans.

Private College 529 Plan launches under the name Independent 529.

BusinessWeek magazine names the plan one of its Best Products of 2003.

The plan has 863 accounts and over $8 million in assets by the end of the year.

The first Tuition Certificate is redeemed by a family at Baylor University in Texas.

The plan has 257 participating colleges, 5,000 accounts and $106 million in assets by the end of the year.

Independent 529 changes its name to Private College 529.

Private College 529 Plan grows its number of participating colleges to 290.

Private College 529 Plan introduces with expert guidance on saving and paying for college.

Private College 529 celebrates 20 years and is featured in The Wall Street Journal. By July 1, the plan has over 7,500 accounts and $345 million in assets.

Membership matters