TIAA-CREF and Tuition Plan Consortium, an Albuquerque, N.M.-based not-for-profit group have launched the Independent 529 Plan to allow participants to put savings toward tuition at private colleges. Similar to traditional 529 plans that apply to public institutions, the plan locks in current tuition costs and remains fixed despite tuition increases.

Parents can open an account for as little as $25, provided contributions reach at least $500 within two years. Contributions are capped at $11,000 annually, and the maximum lifetime contribution is equal to five years' tuition at the most expensive institution in the plan. When parents enroll, they select a list of favorite schools, and quarterly statements will reflect how much tuition their contributions have made toward each favored school.

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