Achieve Montana


The Montana Family Education Savings Program -- Investment Plan was renamed Achieve Montana with a new suite of investments added in October 2015. Ascensus College Savings continues to serve as program manager for this direct-sold plan. Five investment options are offered featuring Vanguard and DFA funds as underlying investments and an FDIC-insured savings option is also available. Accounts can be linked to the Upromise rewards service.

5-Cap Rating


Savingforcollege.com's 5-Cap Ratings provides an evaluation and comparison of 529 plans, utilizing a formula that examines dozens of factors grouped into the following categories. (Scale 0 to 5; 5 is highest)

Performance Costs Features Reliability Resident Upgrade
N/A 1.02 1.70 3.60 0.03


Program type:


How to enroll:

Enroll directly with the program.

Initial year of operation:

2002, but substantially changed in December 2010 and October 2015.

State agency(ies):

Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education

Program manager:

Ascensus College Savings, with The Vanguard Group and Dimensional Fund Advisors LP as investment managers.

Program distributor:

Ascensus College Savings

Manager contract term:

Expires in 2020.


State residency requirements:


Who can be a participant/owner in the program?

U.S. citizens and resident aliens of legal age, UGMA/UTMA custodians, and legal entities. Joint ownership by spouses is permitted.

Significant time or age restrictions imposed by the program:

Qualified withdrawals from this plan within three years of establishing the account are subject to Montana tax at the highest Montana marginal rate to the extent of prior Montana tax deductions, but only after removal of non-deducted contributions.


Maximum contributions:

Accepts contributions until all account balances in Montana's 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $396,000.

Minimum contributions:

$25 or $15 through payroll deduction.

Investment Options

Age-based investment options:

An age-based option, comprised of five portfolios, moves investments automatically from one portfolio to progressively more conservative investments as the beneficiary approaches college age.

Static investment options:

Select among six portfolios, Aggressive, Growth, Moderate, Conservative, Income and an FDIC-insured savings option.

Underlying investments:

Vanguard and DFA funds.

Underlying fund allocations:

Click here, you need Microsoft Excel to open this document.

Investment performance link:

Click here to visit, link to the program website containing most current performance data.

Portfolio Fees & Performance Lookup

Click here to visit, pricing and performance details for each portfolio. Data can be plugged into FINRA's 529 Expense Analyzer.

Fees & Expenses

Enrollment or application fee:


Account maintenance fee:

$25 annually, waived for accounts with a Montana resident as beneficiary and for accounts with balances of $25,000 or more and for account with automatic bank deposits or by payroll deduction.

Program management fees:

0.52%; 0.47% for the savings option, plus 0.20% administrative fee.

Expenses of the underlying investments:

Ranges from 0.0% to 0.11%

Total asset-based expense ratio:

0.67% - 0.83%

Taxes and other Benefits

Program match on contributions:


State tax deduction or credit for contributions:

Contributions to Montana AND non-Montana 529 plans of up to $3,000 per year by an individual, and up to $6,000 per year by a married couple filing jointly, are deductible in computing Montana taxable income. Only contributions made by the account owner, the account owner's spouse, or the account owner's custodian/parent are deductible. Contribution deadline is December 31.

Value of in-state tax benefits:

At the maximum Montana rate of 6.9% the tax deduction is worth as much as $207 ($414 joint) in Montana tax savings. Because Montana has made the deduction available to contributions to any 529 plan, this value does not have to be factored in when comparing plans.

State tax recapture provisions:

The principal portion of rollovers, qualified withdrawals within three years of establishing the account, and nonqualified withdrawals from this plan are subject to Montana tax at the highest Montana marginal rate to the extent of prior Montana tax deductions, but only after removal of non-deducted contributions.

State tax treatment of qualified distributions:

Qualified distributions from Montana and non-Montana 529 plans are exempt.

State tax treatment of rollovers:

Montana follows tax-free treatment for rollovers into a Montana 529 plan. Montana tax treatment of rollovers out of a Montana 529 plan is unclear, as Montana law may require that the rollover be treated as a nonqualified withdrawal.

Does the sponsoring state exclude the value of an account for state financial aid purposes?


Does participation in the program provide beneficiaries with any advantages in qualifying for resident tuition status at state institutions?


Does the program have a formal agreement with a rewards program or outside scholarship program?

Yes, with Upromise. The Upromise rewards service is free and offers cash back for college. Plus, members can earn up to an additional 5% cash back with the Upromise MasterCard®.

Statutory protection of an account from creditors:


Distributions & Terminations

To whom are distributions made payable:

Eligible educational institution, beneficiary, or account owner, as directed by the account owner.

Account Changes

Policy regarding participant/owner changes:

Accepts requests to transfer account ownership.

Documents, Access & Reporting

Does participant have online password-protected access to account?


Can the complete enrollment process including funding be done online?


Documents and other services accessible or downloadable on the program's public Web site:

Disclosure Statement


Web site:

Click here to visit




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