Ineligible for US 529 plans and federal financial aid?

In another thread here, a parent mentioned that she had spoken to the international admissions office and learned that 529 funds and FAFSA aid cannot be used at Waterloo. I was sure she must be wrong but when I checked for Canadian schools, every other major school I can think of in Canada is listed, but not Waterloo. Anyone know what is up with that?

As far as I can tell, Trent and Brock are also missing from the list, as is the Université de Moncton. Of course these are not as glaring an omission as Waterloo.

I found another list with the same four omissions. However, there was also a note: “TIP: A small number of schools, not on this list, may be eligible educational institutions. So, you may need to ask the school”.

This is very strange. Given that we are currently using 529 funds for a daughter at university in Canada, I was pleased that I did find the school that she is attending, along with all of the schools that either daughter applied to, on the list.

I was alerted to this because another mom said they just visited Waterloo and were told that they could not accept 529 funds, so I think the “you may need to ask the school” is unfortunately already done. Of course if our DS ends up there, we will ask as well. They did say “at this time” so I suppose they might start accepting it during his tenure there, if he goes. We don’t have that much in 529s and the amount that is “earnings” which is where we’re going to take a hit, is pretty small. So it’s not a deal-breaker, but it does stink, especially since he’s our youngest, so we can’t just move the funds down to the next kid in line. We do need the funds for this kid, so we’re going to have to take the hit on a non-qualified disbursement unless there’s some way around that.

You might also want to ask the folks at the 529 investment company that you use. If you attend an eligible school, it is okay to pay the school yourself, and then withdraw the same amount of funds from the fund. Fidelity or Vanguard or whomever you use might know what to do if you don’t see your university on the list.

Waterloo is certainly a well known and well respected university.

I just posted this on the other thread, but will post here.

@mathmomvt @m0mr0cks It may be that due to co-op, and students changing from student to employed status every 4 months, it is too difficult to support 529 and FAFSA documentation. D16 is a Waterloo student (Canadian). She has a Canadian source of funding (not OSAP or similar) that she only gets if she is a full time student. It stops every time she is on co-op.

@bouders there are American co-op schools (Northeastern, Drexel, others) that accept 529 plans, so I doubt that that is the reason.

Could it be that the school has made the decision, though? US schools REALLY need to accept the 529, and might be willing to jump through more hoops.

Yes, I assume the school has just decided that they don’t care enough about attracting American students to jump through the hoops. Out of over 30K students, only 101 are from the US (vs. over 4K from China). So yeah, I can see them not bothering.

It would appear that Waterloo used to be eligible. The school code was G08526. This is strange. Waterloo is a world class school for mathematics, computer science and engineering. I’m shocked their US representation is so low.

Waterloo is not as well known in the US. The university is only 60 years old. It is well known in the tech community, but not otherwise. So, American parents and guidance counsellors are unlikely to have heard of it unless they follow CS rankings. It’s also more difficult for international students to gain admission to its math, computer science and engineering programs at the undergrad level than it is for Canadians. Engineering, for example, only allots 200 of its 1500 or so spots for internationals.

ABBOTSFORD, CN are on the list, it is surprising that Waterloo isn’t on the list.

I would call and escalate the call to a senior person at Waterloo.