The tax law’s expansion of 529 plans also raises other concerns for Feirstein. Although she emphasizes that she is all for saving for education, “From a policy standpoint, I scratch my head,” she says. “Who are we really helping here?”

The assumption is that it will be mostly wealthy families. The plans have already come  under fire from Congress and regulators as college savings vehicles just for the rich (though she disagrees with that assessment). That could become a problem if Congress later reassesses where it could garner revenues. “If you’re sitting on a product that people think is a product for wealthy people anyway,” she says, “you just become a potential target down the road.”

Also, “When you give people a tax-advantaged way to save for parochial school or religious school or private school,” she says, “it’s often accused of being a next step towards vouchers for educations.”

The tax law did not eliminate another vehicle that already allows families to save for elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, the Coverdell Education Savings Account. Under this program, families can contribute up to $2,000 per year per child if their modified adjusted gross income for the year doesn’t exceed $95,000 for single filers or $190,000 for married couples filing jointly. (Single filers are ineligible after their AGIs reach $110,000 and couples are ineligible upon reaching a $220,000 AGI.)

Campus Considerations

The tax changes could meanwhile affect some schools’ financial aid. Roughly three dozen private schools face a 1.4% excise tax placed on the net investment income of large college endowments, which means those schools might decide to award less generous aid packages, says Kantrowitz. Colleges may also see a decline in charitable contributions, he says, as higher standard deductions for federal tax returns shrink the pool of taxpayers who’ll benefit from itemizing.

Jim Holtzman, a CFP, wealth advisor and shareholder with Legend Financial Advisors in Pittsburgh, thinks alumni will continue to fund scholarships at their alma maters because they often believe very strongly in doing so. However, he says, the tax changes might change the amount and frequency of donations.

The federal tax law’s new $10,000 deduction cap for state and local income taxes and property taxes could, in high-tax states, “crimp finances for families,” he says. He will run income tax projections for his clients to see how dramatic the true impact of all the tax changes will be for each of them, then help them figure out how they can adjust their budgets—including the education bucket.

He encourages his clients with college planning needs to look for schools that provide “bang for the buck” and to explore all scholarship opportunities. “Especially on the merit side, there are usually some hidden treasures out there,” he says. He’s also happy to sit down with clients’ children before they leave for college to help them understand finances and the big picture.

Beloff doesn’t think the new tax law will require dramatically different college planning. “In my experience, tax law changes generally don’t drive how or how much parents save, just where they save,” he says.