Thanks for your question on the rules for IRA withdrawals. Yes, paying for your child’s college tuition is an approved exception to the early withdrawal penalty as long as the institution is accredited and the expense is on the list of eligible expenses.
IRS publication 590-B (found here: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p59...
) indicates that an accredited institution is any college, university, vocational school, or other postsecondary educational institution eligible to participate in the student aid programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education. You will want to check with your child’s institution to confirm that it qualifies.
Eligible expenses generally include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and required equipment. If the student attends college half-time or more, room and board also count as qualified educational expenses.
Distributions from Roth IRAs can be used to pay for educational expenses as long as the account has passed the five-year aging rule requirements, and there should be no penalties.
Please note that any distribution may be subject to income tax and we suggest checking with your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.