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COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

2012 plan performance rankings Q4
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/2012-plan-performance-rankings-q4

Posted: 2013-02-18

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, three-year investment performance, five-year investment performance and ten-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.

Here are our 529 performance rankings as of December 31, 2012.

We ranked plans that consumers can enroll in directly (see below), as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners).

One-year performance ranking

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 South Dakota CollegeAccess 529 (Direct-sold) 18.38
2 Michigan Michigan Education Savings Program 22.82
3 California The ScholarShare College Savings Plan 26.41
4 Virginia Virginia529 inVEST 29.65
5 West Virginia SMART529 WV Direct 30.87
6 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 33.22
7 District of Columbia DC 529 College Savings Program (Direct-sold) 33.41
8 Connecticut Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) 35.36
9 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 35.59
10 Nevada USAA 529 College Savings Plan 36.24

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

Three-year performance ranking

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Michigan Michigan Education Savings Program 26.39
2 Virginia Virginia529 inVEST 28.26
3 New York New York's 529 College Savings Program -- Direct Plan 28.89
4 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 29.70
5 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 29.77
6 Pennsylvania Pennsylvania 529 Investment Plan 31.40
7 Oklahoma Oklahoma College Savings Plan 33.28
8 Minnesota Minnesota College Savings Plan 34.23
9 South Dakota CollegeAccess 529 (Direct-sold) 34.31
10 South Carolina Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 35.59

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

Five-year performance ranking

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Nevada USAA 529 College Savings Plan 13.81
2 Utah Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) Trust 25.79
3 Florida Florida 529 Savings Plan 27.26
4 Kansas Schwab 529 College Savings Plan 30.91
5 Pennsylvania Pennsylvania 529 Investment Plan 31.43
6 New York New York's 529 College Savings Program -- Direct Plan 31.59
7 Michigan Michigan Education Savings Program 33.11
8 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 35.16
9 Ohio Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan 35.40
10 Nevada The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan 35.61

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

Ten-year performance ranking

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 20.19
2 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 27.20
3 Virginia Virginia529 inVEST 33.07
4 Maryland College Savings Plans of Maryland -- College Investment Plan 34.36
5 Louisiana START Saving Program 40.90
6 Iowa College Savings Iowa 43.58
7 South Carolina Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 45.20
8 Nevada The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan 49.40
9 Rhode Island CollegeBoundfund (Direct-sold, Alternative RI) 56.13

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

For broker-sold plan rankings and fee-based financial planners.

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, five-year and ten-year performances.

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, five-year and ten-year performances.

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

See the one-year direct-sold, three-year direct-sold, five-year direct-sold and ten-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, five-year and ten-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, three-year investment performance, five-year investment performance and ten-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.

Here are our 529 performance rankings as of December 31, 2012.

We ranked plans that consumers can enroll in directly (see below), as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners).

One-year performance ranking

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 South Dakota CollegeAccess 529 (Direct-sold) 18.38
2 Michigan Michigan Education Savings Program 22.82
3 California The ScholarShare College Savings Plan 26.41
4 Virginia Virginia529 inVEST 29.65
5 West Virginia SMART529 WV Direct 30.87
6 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 33.22
7 District of Columbia DC 529 College Savings Program (Direct-sold) 33.41
8 Connecticut Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) 35.36
9 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 35.59
10 Nevada USAA 529 College Savings Plan 36.24

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

Three-year performance ranking

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Michigan Michigan Education Savings Program 26.39
2 Virginia Virginia529 inVEST 28.26
3 New York New York's 529 College Savings Program -- Direct Plan 28.89
4 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 29.70
5 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 29.77
6 Pennsylvania Pennsylvania 529 Investment Plan 31.40
7 Oklahoma Oklahoma College Savings Plan 33.28
8 Minnesota Minnesota College Savings Plan 34.23
9 South Dakota CollegeAccess 529 (Direct-sold) 34.31
10 South Carolina Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 35.59

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

Five-year performance ranking

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Nevada USAA 529 College Savings Plan 13.81
2 Utah Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) Trust 25.79
3 Florida Florida 529 Savings Plan 27.26
4 Kansas Schwab 529 College Savings Plan 30.91
5 Pennsylvania Pennsylvania 529 Investment Plan 31.43
6 New York New York's 529 College Savings Program -- Direct Plan 31.59
7 Michigan Michigan Education Savings Program 33.11
8 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 35.16
9 Ohio Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan 35.40
10 Nevada The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan 35.61

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

Ten-year performance ranking

Rank State Plan Percentile
1 Alaska T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan 20.19
2 Alaska University of Alaska College Savings Plan 27.20
3 Virginia Virginia529 inVEST 33.07
4 Maryland College Savings Plans of Maryland -- College Investment Plan 34.36
5 Louisiana START Saving Program 40.90
6 Iowa College Savings Iowa 43.58
7 South Carolina Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) 45.20
8 Nevada The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan 49.40
9 Rhode Island CollegeBoundfund (Direct-sold, Alternative RI) 56.13

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

For broker-sold plan rankings and fee-based financial planners.

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