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COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

2009 plan performance rankings Q4
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/2009-plan-performance-rankings-q4

Posted: 2010-02-26

Each quarter Savingforcollege.com analyzes the investment performance figures for thousands of 529 portfolios and ranks the 529 savings plans from best to worst for one-year investment performance, for three-year investment performance and for five-year investment performance.

The top performing 529 plans

In producing our rankings, we compared the reported investment performance of a subset of portfolios from each 529 savings plan. The lower the "percentile" the better the ranking. For more details on our methodology click here.

We ranked plans that consumers can enroll in directly (see below), as well as those sold through brokers (click here).

These rankings are for periods ended Dec. 31, 2009

One-year performance ranking

Updated Feb. 24, 2010

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Nevada USAA College Savings Plan 3.58
2 West Virginia SMART529 WV Direct 20.41
3 Maryland College Savings Plans of Maryland - College Investment Plan 26.95
4 Montana Pacific Life Funds 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) MT 27.02
5 Alabama College Counts 529 Fund 28.62
6 Rhode Island CollegeBoundfund (Direct-sold, Alternative R) 29.55
7 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 29.77
8 Maine NextGen College Investing Plan - Client Direct Series 30.71
9 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 33.24
10 South Dakota CollegeAccess 529 (Direct-sold) 34.37

See the full list of one-year direct-sold rankings.

Three-year performance ranking

Updated Feb. 24, 2010

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Nevada USAA College Savings Plan 18.68
2 Kansas Schwab 529 College Savings Plan 21.32
3 Florida Florida College Investment Plan 26.35
4 Nevada The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan 33.50
5 Montana Pacific Life Funds 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) MT 34.43
6 South Carolina Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 34.71
7 Wisconsin EdVest (Direct-sold) 36.21
8 Ohio Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan 36.47
9 Missouri MOST - Missouri's 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 36.88
10 Nevada The Upromise College Fund 37.94

See the full list of three-year direct-sold rankings.

Five-year performance ranking

Updated Feb. 24, 2010

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Kansas Schwab 529 College Savings Plan 27.05
2 Nevada USAA College Savings Plan 27.46
3 Montana Pacific Life Funds 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) MT 34.89
4 Nebraska College Savings Plan of Nebraska (Direct-sold) 36.37
5 Maryland College Savings Plans of Maryland - College Investment Plan 36.41
6 South Carolina Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 36.53
7 Wisconsin EdVest (Direct-sold) 37.45
8 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 37.54
9 Rhode Island CollegeBoundfund (Direct-sold, Alternative R) 37.86
10 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 37.91

See the full list of five-year direct-sold rankings.

For broker sold plan rankings, click here.

How to rank 529 plan performance

Ranking over 3,000 investment options is no easy task, considering the wide variety of options found in 529 savings plans, and it requires a special methodology.

Step one: We select specific portfolios from each 529 plan that can be compared on an apples-to-apples basis to portfolios in other 529 plans based on their allocation among stocks, bonds and short-term instruments (money market and guaranteed investments). We've set up seven different asset-allocation categories ranging from 100 percent equity to 100 percent short-term.

Step two: Within each of the seven categories, we compare historical performance of the selected portfolios and assign each plan a percentile ranking between one (best) and 100 (worst). Separate rankings are developed for one-year, three-year and five-year performance.

Step three: We take the average of each 529 plan's percentile rankings in the seven asset-allocation categories to produce a combined or "composite" percentile ranking. We then produce reports showing how the 529 plans rank against each other in their composite percentile rankings. Note: We currently produce these composite rankings for one-year, three-year and five-year performance.

For a more in-depth explanation of our methodology, please read our white paper.

See the one-year direct-sold, three-year direct-sold and five-year direct-sold rankings.

More information

Links to our full report on the composite rankings for this quarter are provided below for the direct-sold 529 plans. Only our Premium subscribers have access to composite rankings for advisor-sold 529 plans, to the underlying data supporting the rankings and to separate one-year, three-year and five-year rankings for each of the seven different asset-allocation categories. In addition, subscribers can easily look up the historical performance for every 529 portfolio in every available share class by using our Fee and Performance Lookup Tool.

Each quarter Savingforcollege.com analyzes the investment performance figures for thousands of 529 portfolios and ranks the 529 savings plans from best to worst for one-year investment performance, for three-year investment performance and for five-year investment performance.

The top performing 529 plans

In producing our rankings, we compared the reported investment performance of a subset of portfolios from each 529 savings plan. The lower the "percentile" the better the ranking. For more details on our methodology click here.

We ranked plans that consumers can enroll in directly (see below), as well as those sold through brokers (click here).

These rankings are for periods ended Dec. 31, 2009

One-year performance ranking

Updated Feb. 24, 2010

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Nevada USAA College Savings Plan 3.58
2 West Virginia SMART529 WV Direct 20.41
3 Maryland College Savings Plans of Maryland - College Investment Plan 26.95
4 Montana Pacific Life Funds 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) MT 27.02
5 Alabama College Counts 529 Fund 28.62
6 Rhode Island CollegeBoundfund (Direct-sold, Alternative R) 29.55
7 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 29.77
8 Maine NextGen College Investing Plan - Client Direct Series 30.71
9 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 33.24
10 South Dakota CollegeAccess 529 (Direct-sold) 34.37

See the full list of one-year direct-sold rankings.

Three-year performance ranking

Updated Feb. 24, 2010

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Nevada USAA College Savings Plan 18.68
2 Kansas Schwab 529 College Savings Plan 21.32
3 Florida Florida College Investment Plan 26.35
4 Nevada The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan 33.50
5 Montana Pacific Life Funds 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) MT 34.43
6 South Carolina Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 34.71
7 Wisconsin EdVest (Direct-sold) 36.21
8 Ohio Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan 36.47
9 Missouri MOST - Missouri's 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 36.88
10 Nevada The Upromise College Fund 37.94

See the full list of three-year direct-sold rankings.

Five-year performance ranking

Updated Feb. 24, 2010

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Kansas Schwab 529 College Savings Plan 27.05
2 Nevada USAA College Savings Plan 27.46
3 Montana Pacific Life Funds 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) MT 34.89
4 Nebraska College Savings Plan of Nebraska (Direct-sold) 36.37
5 Maryland College Savings Plans of Maryland - College Investment Plan 36.41
6 South Carolina Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 36.53
7 Wisconsin EdVest (Direct-sold) 37.45
8 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 37.54
9 Rhode Island CollegeBoundfund (Direct-sold, Alternative R) 37.86
10 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 37.91

See the full list of five-year direct-sold rankings.

For broker sold plan rankings, click here.

How to rank 529 plan performance

Ranking over 3,000 investment options is no easy task, considering the wide variety of options found in 529 savings plans, and it requires a special methodology.

Step one: We select specific portfolios from each 529 plan that can be compared on an apples-to-apples basis to portfolios in other 529 plans based on their allocation among stocks, bonds and short-term instruments (money market and guaranteed investments). We've set up seven different asset-allocation categories ranging from 100 percent equity to 100 percent short-term.

Step two: Within each of the seven categories, we compare historical performance of the selected portfolios and assign each plan a percentile ranking between one (best) and 100 (worst). Separate rankings are developed for one-year, three-year and five-year performance.

Step three: We take the average of each 529 plan's percentile rankings in the seven asset-allocation categories to produce a combined or "composite" percentile ranking. We then produce reports showing how the 529 plans rank against each other in their composite percentile rankings. Note: We currently produce these composite rankings for one-year, three-year and five-year performance.

For a more in-depth explanation of our methodology, please read our white paper.

See the one-year direct-sold, three-year direct-sold and five-year direct-sold rankings.

More information

Links to our full report on the composite rankings for this quarter are provided below for the direct-sold 529 plans. Only our Premium subscribers have access to composite rankings for advisor-sold 529 plans, to the underlying data supporting the rankings and to separate one-year, three-year and five-year rankings for each of the seven different asset-allocation categories. In addition, subscribers can easily look up the historical performance for every 529 portfolio in every available share class by using our Fee and Performance Lookup Tool.

 
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