Q. Is it true that there are plastic gift cards to make a contribution to a child’s 529 college savings account or to help college graduates repay their loans?
A. Yes, says Nadine Perry, marketing director for the gift registry Gift of College. Beginning Nov. 7, physical, plastic gift cards will be available in Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores in increments of $25 to $500.
Parents of younger children create a profile on GiftofCollege.com, and each time they receive a card, they can transfer the money into a linked 529 account. If they don’t currently have a 529 account, they’ll have to open one.
College grads can create their own profiles and transfer money to pay down a linked student loan.
“The crushing debt these kids are under — it’s so disturbing on so many levels,” Perry says. “I’m sure they would rather have the gift card in their stocking than another ugly holiday sweater.”
The gift card would help pay down the principal of a loan, which would shorten the number of total payments — the graduate would still have to make the current payments that are due, unless they are able to arrange something else directly with their loan provider, Perry says.
The cards have a purchase charge between $3.95 and $5.95, depending on the gift amount chosen; that fee is paid by the gift giver and the recipient receives the entire face value of the gift card with no fees.
Gift of College has offered and still offers the ability to make an e-gift at their site, but the gift card in stores makes it more convenient and offers the plastic card to acknowledge the gift.