Apprenticeships and non-traditional education

Apprenticeship programs are becoming more popular as an alternative to college. Over the past decade, the number of registered apprentices rose 64% – U.S. Department of Labor.


Did you know that 529 savings can be used for more than just traditional college expenses?

CollegeInvest savings accounts can help your child or grandchild pursue different paths after high school, including apprenticeships and technical education. There are several options other than traditional 4-year colleges and universities for post-secondary education that can be covered by your 529 savings plan.

529 Savings Plan

Vocational, trade or technical schools

These are educational institutions that focus on providing specialized training and education for specific trades, occupations, or careers. These schools offer programs that are designed to prepare students for employment in various fields that require practical skills and specialized knowledge. They also provide hands-on training and practical education that is directly applicable to the chosen career path. Examples include automotive technology, culinary arts, cosmetology, healthcare, information technology, welding, construction trades, graphic design, and many others. Vocational school programs are often shorter in duration compared to traditional four-year college programs.

Apprenticeship programs

An apprenticeship is a way to acquire hands-on training, work experience, classroom instruction, and mentorship in a particular trade. Not only is an apprenticeship paid, but it’s also a doorway to a stable and in-demand job. Most apprentices are promoted or receive a raise during their apprenticeship. The average salary is $77,000, per the Department of Labor. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has a Registered Apprenticeship Program Directory here. If it is listed, 529 plan funds can be used towards program fees, books, supplies and equipment, including the tools needed for the trade.

Are you an employer looking for apprenticeship resources?

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CollegeInvest 529 Benefits

CollegeInvest offers several benefits, including:

Qualified expenses such as books, meters, tools, boots and uniforms can be paid for with a 529

Contributions to a 529 are tax-deductible

529s can pay for ongoing required certification classes

Tax-deferred earnings growth; tax free withdrawals for qualified expenses

529 accounts are transferable to other family members

The funds can be used at eligible colleges, universities, technical schools nationwide, and even abroad, as long as the school is qualified to participate in federal student aid programs. Colorado taxpayers may also be eligible for a Colorado state tax deduction

It’s important to note that while these expenses are generally considered qualified, it’s always a good idea to consult with a tax advisor or financial professional to ensure compliance with any specific rules or regulations that may apply in your situation.

Frequently asked questions

What is a 529 college savings plan?

A CollegeInvest 529 Savings Plan is an educational savings account where your money grows federal and state tax-free as long as it’s used for specific expenses, including tuition and room and board. Use your savings anywhere in the country at eligible colleges or trade schools and even for apprenticeships.

529’s were created to encourage parents to start saving early while their students were young, allowing the savings to increase as they grow. The affordability, flexibility and unique savings plans of 529s make them one of the best and easiest ways to save for a postsecondary education.

Learn more about 529 plans here.

How can I use my 529? (Eligible expenses)

The qualified expenses of a 529 plan:

  • Tuition, including the cost of apprenticeships
  • Required fees, books, and supplies
  • Certain room/board/meal plan expenses and on-/off-campus housing
  • Desktops, laptops, or tablets and computer equipment (printers, scanners, monitors, keyboards) used solely by the student
  • Education-based software (used solely by the student)
  • Internet access (primary use by the student, excluding the bundled costs of phone, cable, and/or pay TV services)
  • Special needs equipment

Who can participate?

Parents, grandparents, other relatives, even friends! There are no age or income restrictions to owning a CollegeInvest account. Nor do you have to be a Colorado resident or taxpayer.

In fact, you could open an account for yourself. If you’re seeking an advanced degree, looking for additional certification, wanting to finish college, or simply trying to keep up with new technology, a CollegeInvest college savings plan can get you there.

You can open as many accounts as you want. YOU control who receives the funds, when they’re withdrawn, and for what expenses. You can change the Beneficiary at any time.

Nor are there any restrictions on the number of accounts per Beneficiary.

And anyone can contribute to your account. Learn more about Friends and Family Gifting.

What vocational, trade or technical schools will my 529 funds apply to?

If the trade or technical school is eligible to participate in federal student aid programs, expenses related to enrollment and attendance, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, and required equipment, can be covered by 529 funds. It’s important to contact your school of interest to determine its eligibility, and you can refer to the Federal Student Aid School Code Search for a regularly updated list of qualified institutions.

What apprenticeships will my 529 funds apply to?

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has a Registered Apprenticeship Program Directory here. If it is listed, 529 plan funds can be used towards program fees, books, supplies and equipment, including the tools needed for the trade. The Department of Labor provides a search tool to find out if your particular apprenticeship program is eligible.