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529 fee study

Savingforcollege.com's 529 Fee Study compares the lowest and highest 10-year expense totals for all direct-sold 529 savings plans. The data come from 529 program official disclosure statements.

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Here's some further explanation (and a few cautions) about our 529 Fee Study.

Savingforcollege.com's 529 Fee Study compares 10-year total costs of all direct-sold 529 plans, using data found in official program descriptions. Under industry disclosure guidelines, each 529 savings plan is to prepare a cost chart approximating the costs of investing in the plan over periods of one, three, five and 10 years. The cost estimates are computed based on a hypothetical $10,000 investment earning 5 percent annually, and generally include the expenses of the underlying investments (e.g., mutual funds), program-level asset-based fees including management and administration fees, and annual account fees.

The 529 Fee Study highlights the lowest-cost and highest-cost investment options for each plan. In addition, we include the second-lowest and second-highest cost options to provide a better idea for the dispersion of costs in the plan. We include only those investment options with returns traceable to market-traded securities; not included are the bank products found in some 529 plans, or options with an insurance component (guaranteed investment contracts, stable value options, etc.).

The purpose of our study is to give you an easy way to view and compare these cost estimates. It should not be used as the sole basis for your selection of a 529 plan. Before investing in a 529 plan, you should read the plan's official program description in its entirety.

Please note the following:

  • The 529 Fee Study does not include broker-sold 529 plans. If a plan is sold both directly and through brokers, we have included the cost estimates only for the direct-sold version.
  • The estimated total costs include the annual account fees, if any, unless specifically excluded as described under "Comments." Annual account fees are shown in a separate column on 529 Fee Study comparison chart. Many 529 plans will waive account fees under certain conditions such as with automatic contributions or high account balances.
  • This study is compiled using the most recent official program disclosures. The "as of" dates for the cost data varies considerably from plan to plan. Underlying investment expenses can change frequently, and such changes would affect the 10-year cost estimates.
  • The 529 Fee Study is updated and republished periodically. If corrected data is provided to Savingforcollege.com, we will update this study to reflect those changes.

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