While the primary purpose of life insurance is to provide a death benefit to beneficiaries, it can also be used to create a self-completing plan to help fund a college education. Additionally, a key benefit of permanent life insurance, that doesn't involve death, is that it has the potential to accumulate cash value on a tax-deferred basis.1 Those funds can then be accessed to help pay for college costs or any need on a TAX-FREE basis.

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1 The tax-deferred feature of universal life or indexed universal life insurance is not necessary for a tax-qualified plan. In such instances, you should consider whether other features, such as the death benefit and optional riders make the policy appropriate for your needs. Before purchasing a policy, you should obtain competent tax advice both as to the tax treatment of the policy and the suitability of the product.
The primary purpose of life insurance is to provide a death benefit to beneficiaries. Because of the uncertainty surrounding all funding options except savings, it is critical to make personal savings the cornerstone of your college funding program. However, even a well-conceived savings plan can be vulnerable. Should you die prematurely, your savings plan could come to an abrupt end.
To protect against this unexpected event, life insurance may be the only vehicle that can help assure the completion of a funding plan. In addition to the financial protection aspect of insurance, the tax-deferred buildup of cash values can be part of your college savings plan. Generally, if the policy is not a Modified Endowment Contract then tax-free withdrawals can be made up to the contract's cost basis. Moreover, if the policy is not a Modified Endowment Contract, then loans in excess of the cost basis are also tax free as long as the policy remains in force.