Q: Can I use money tax-free from a 529 college-savings plan to pay for continuing education? Or do I have to be enrolled in a college degree or certificate program?
A: As long as you are taking the course at an eligible institution, the cost of tuition, fees, required books and software can be withdrawn tax-free from the 529, even if you aren’t in a degree or certificate program.
Eligible institutions include accredited colleges, universities, vocational schools and other postsecondary educational institutions that participate in a student aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Education (see FAFSA.gov's Federal School Code Search tool).
Nearly 4,000 U.S. institutions qualify, along with some outside of the U.S., says James DiUlio, chairman of the executive board of the National College Savings Plan Network. Continuing education needed to maintain a professional license may also be eligible, depending on the institution where you take the course.