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Ballet Talk for Dancers

529 college savings plan money for ballet supplies?


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Does anyone know if you can use 529 college savings plan money for ballet supplies if you are enrolled as a dance major in college? The rules for withdrawal of funds from 529 plans indicate any expense needed to attend that particular school. So, computers and printers are now covered. Food needs if the meal plan does not fully cover all meals is allowable as well as utility bills if you live off campus. So if your major requires you to have said supplies (pointe shoes etc) I wonder if that is acceptable?

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I am making the assumption for tax purposes that pointe shoes and other dance wear are included in allowed college expenses for a ballet major, and it seems like it would apply the same for the 529 account. I printed out a copy of the student handbook that describes the required dress code, which includes not only shoes, but also specifies leotards and tights, and I am keeping that printout with my tax records and receipts.

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Thank you millvillemurphs ! I would assume it would be akin to a music major who needs a certain instrument.

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You will need to search "Qualified Education Expenses" for the individual college you are speaking of or ask them. They should know how to tell you. The institution will be able to tell you if it's qualified. Here is the exact quote from the IRS. You'll note the pesky ending part where it says only if "the fees and expenses must be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance. So............................take that for what you will.


A music major would not necessarily be a good comparison, since they will likely own their instrument at the time of audition and once the instrument is owned, you do not necessarily have to buy another one. There are step up models for sure, but it would not be a requirement of a university. Pointe shoes are disposable items and that is much different.


Today, many colleges, after all fees are paid, will send any overage into the student's account (or the parent's if that is how you set up those things). That is what becomes income and why housing doesn't always count depending on how the school sets it up.


Related expenses. Student activity fees and expenses for course-related books, supplies, and equipment are included in qualified education expenses only if the fees and expenses must be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.
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  • 2 weeks later...

I actually asked this question of my provider and was told no. And, as an example, they said they also don't cover such things as athletic equipment and apparel for PE class.

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  • 1 year later...

I'd love to revive this topic. Does anyone have any current information to share, or has anyone else spoken with a tax advisor that can share what they had to say?

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That article is more focused on the recent change that allows 529 money to be spent on private elementary - high schools. I'm particularly curious about using 529 money to pay for pointe shoes in college. They will be required, just as books or other supplies will be required of other classes. I'd like to think that as long as the amount we withdraw for "books and supplies" is in line with what her university publishes as the estimated cost, then we'll be fine if pointe shoes are part of that amount. I'm hoping to hear from someone with some firsthand experience with this, if possible. Thanks!

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I am sure that in all eight years of two kids going through college (plus graduate schools), we were never able to claim “books and supplies” as ‘condition of attendance.’  We have used Turbo Tax programs for years and it will let you enter pretty much anything you might want to include and then tells you what can’t be claimed/used or what have you.

Your best bet is to ask an accountant.  (Or ask on College Confidential—-those folks know pretty much ALL the ins-and-outs!)

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Really, dancemaven? Have things changed since you were using a 529 plan? According to a government publication (970):



Qualified Higher Education Expenses

These are expenses related to enrollment or attendance at an eligible postsecondary school. As shown in the following list, to be qualified, some of the expenses must be required by the school and some must be incurred by students who are enrolled at least half-time, defined later.

1. The following expenses must be required for enrollment or attendance of a designated beneficiary at an eligible postsecondary school.

a. Tuition and fees.

b. Books, supplies, and equipment. 



If a book is on a required reading list, for example, then it is a qualified expense. Laptops and printers are also qualifying expenses. If tuition alone, or tuition plus room and board, wipes out someone's 529 plan then I can see where paying for books out of it wouldn't come up.

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:shrug:  All I know is how it worked for us.  Your mileage may very.  

I think some distinctions are that those expenses are not a condition of admission to the school——-only an individual class, which may very well be considered a voluntary elective, not a requirement for enrollment in the school itself.  Now whether it matters that it may (or may not be) a requirement for a specific chosen degree . . . . :shrug:   If you go that route, leotards, tights, etc. may qualify, so it becomes hard to draw lines.  That’s what tax specialists are for. :)

For that matter, perhaps all clothing could qualify—-as surely, a student would be required to come to any class clothed with shoes on in order to be admitted to the instituion, regardless of major . . . . . :D.

Perhaps someone will have a better answer for you. :thumbsup:


As for required books on reading lists for classes, here’s a tip DD learned her very first semester.  Be wary of buying all the books on such a required list—until the student knows the books will actually be used!  Those long lists of books are often never used at all or sometimes only a few pages are assigned.  Much more beneficial to either visit the library when needed (few pages actually assigned) or rent the books or some are never opened (don’t buy at all.). They usually have several copies put on reserve in the library for use. 

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Agreed re: a tax specialist! Was just hoping to hear of other firsthand experiences here (which you shared!) to help me better understand things. 

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Give me a few days- I'm getting confirmation from my accountant. He believes the expense is legitimate but is double checking it for me. Everything I have read (including IRS 970) has stated that  if supplies are required for attendance and so to maintain good standing as a major in that department , I don't see why not. Books, laptops and computer peripherals are not paid directly to the school so the argument that the expense needs to be paid directly to the school is incorrect. Off campus housing is covered as long as the amount falls within the posted cost of attendance- that is definitely not paid directly to the school .

So if one has a handbook or rules set forth by the department that stipulates a certain supply or equipment, keep all receipts and documentation handy for any potential audits. But like I said, I will update for sure when my accountant confirms. 

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Oh wait!!!!   I just realized this is all about withdrawing funds from the 529 account.  Duh!  Ours all went to tuition, so we never had any other availability to worry about.  :blushing:  [channelling Rosanne Rosanna-Danna here—“Nevermind!” :blushing:]

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dancemaven, that makes perfect sense. ;)

sheahuang, no hurry! Thanks for any information you can share.

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