Are you already worrying about your child’s college tuition? According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, there is close to $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. For a private university, the average cost of one year of tuition and fees is over $32,000, and costs will continue to increase. It’s nearly impossible to graduate without debt. What is a future student to do?

Enter the 529 Foundation. Named after the 529 saving plans, they’re a nonprofit, started in 2012, devoted to helping students save for college and educating parents on how to do that. According to their website, “The 529 Foundation is creating awareness among our nation’s families about the importance of preparing for their children’s higher education. We provide tools to help identify your child’s interests and strengths early in life and develop them as they grow. When kids reach high school age, we begin to match their interests to traditional & corporate tuition sponsors and help position them to attend the college or university of their choice.”

How does it work? You create a free account, which allows you to earn “529Bucks” by completing a variety of tasks. This can be as simple as logging in, working on your profile, and setting and completing goals. Goals can be academic, savings, or extracurricular oriented. 1000 529Bucks = $1. When students are ready for higher education (including trade school), they can cash out their Bucks. While there is a minimum withdrawal amount of $50, there is no maximum.

The money comes from fundraising and donations. If you’re interested in getting involved with fundraising for the 529 Foundation, you can reach staff via the volunteer section.

While this program is beneficial to all families, it could be particularly useful for teens in the foster system, who otherwise may not have access to much money for college. I’d imagine foster parents or case managers could help them get started.

Higher education is expensive, and the 529 Foundation can help. What are you waiting for? Sign up for an account today!