Iowa Educational Savings Plans Trust

K-12 Goals and Investments

Investing for K-12? College Savings Iowa can help.

Using a 529 plan like College Savings Iowa to save for a Beneficiary’s K-12 education presents you with scenarios that are very different from saving for higher education. Consider these factors when choosing the path that works best for your family.

Factors to Consider

Saving Timeline

Because the enrollment period begins much sooner for K-12 than it does for higher education, you’ll have less time to contribute.

Spending Timeline

To pay for K-12, you could be withdrawing money from your 529 plan over a longer period of time than the four years typically needed to graduate from a post-secondary school.

Education Savings Account (ESA)

If you live in Iowa and your family plans to use funds from Iowa’s Student First Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program, it’s important to know College Savings Iowa funds can be used for tuition above (up to $10,000 annually) what the ESA program provides.


3 Tips to Get Started

  1. Determine when you will need the money to pay for education expenses.
  2. Choose your investment based on when you will need to use portions of your savings and your comfort level with risk.
  3. Revisit your asset allocation annually to see if you have the same risk tolerance and time horizon, especially as you get close to making tuition payments since you could be withdrawing more often for K-12 expenses than you may for post-secondary. Then, reallocate your investments if necessary.


  • You can only move money from one portfolio to another twice per calendar year.
  • If you invest in one of College Savings Iowa’s 10 Individual Portfolios, your investments won’t automatically become more conservative over time.

What if I’m saving for higher education and K-12?

Let’s say you have $100 to invest - $75 for higher education and $25 for high school. You might consider splitting your investment this way:

  • $75 in an Age-Based Savings Track designed for saving for higher education based on your risk tolerance.
  • $25 in an Individual Portfolio based on your risk tolerance for a child in kindergarten, who will need the account for private high school in 8 years.
Individual Portfolios Age-Based Savings Tracks


All investments are subject to risks. Investments in bonds are subject to interest rate, credit and inflation risk.

Vanguard Conservative Income Portfolio and Vanguard Interest Accumulation Portfolio both invest in Vanguard Short-Term Reserves Account, which, in turn, invests in Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund. The Vanguard Short-Term Reserves Account could lose money by investing in the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund. Although the fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it cannot guarantee it will do so. An investment in the Fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. The Fund's sponsor has no legal obligation to provide financial support to the Fund, and you should not expect that the sponsor will provide financial support to the Fund at any time.

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