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Recent Industry News
Electronic 529 distributions now possible with participating universities
(April 14, 2016) - Ascensus College Savings (ACS), the largest administrator of 529 Plan assets, has partnered with Higher One to offer School ePay. This will allow 529 account owners to make tuition payments directly through the beneficiary’s school payment portal with participating institutions. School ePay is the first tuition payment solution of its kind.
The name might be unfamiliar, but ACS provides many 529 services behind the scenes at some of the largest 529 Plans in the nation, including Plans offered by JP Morgan, The Hartford, and American Century. For ACS to offer an electronic payment solution through the school’s portal is a huge benefit for all parties involved, simplifying and expediting the withdrawal process.
Expect competitors to follow suit to create similar payment solutions. Those whose accounts are administered by Ascensus will see a more immediate benefit, but the convenience of online payments will set a precedent for other 529 providers.
4Q 2015 529 plan assets up by 4.1%
(February 3, 2016) - According to 4Q15 data from Strategic Insight, assets in 529 college savings plans increased by 4.1% over last quarter, and increased 2.8% over the past year. This growth in assets outpaced long-term mutual fund and ETF assets, which increased 2.8% over the quarter and dropped by 0.9% since last year.
Total prepaid 529 plan assets decreased by 2.8% over the past year, and the total number of active prepaid accounts dropped to 1,153,507 from 1,359,109.
New law makes computers a qualified higher education expense
(December 18, 2015) - On Friday, December 18, President Obama signed a tax and spending package into law that features important improvements to 529 plans. The Protecting Americans from Tax Acts of 2015 (PATH) includes the following updates: making computers a permanent qualified expense, updating accounting rules to eliminate distribution aggregation requirements and allowing account owners to redeposit funds tax free if they receive a refund from the school.