COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

Savingforcollege.com

Just announced: Best 529 plans for 2015
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/just-announced-best-529-plans-for-2015-858

Posted: 2015-10-21

by Kathryn Flynn

Ever wonder how your 529 college savings plan stacks up against the competition? Many families choose a plan simply because their state offers a tax credit or deduction for contributions. 34 states, including the District of Columbia, offer this perk, but in some cases better investment performance or lower fees can outweigh the tax benefits. It’s important for all 529 plan owners to monitor their investment performance, whether or not they’re receiving a state tax break. If you notice a downward trend, you might want to consider another state’s plan. The IRS allows one tax-free rollover in a 12-month period – but be careful - if you have been collecting a state tax deduction you may be subject to a recapture tax when you roll over into another state’s plan.

RELATED: How much is your state tax benefit really worth?

One way to evaluate how your plan is performing is to check Morningstar’s latest 529 plan ratings. Plans were evaluated based on five pillars: Process - the plan’s investment options, People –the reputation of the underlying money managers, Parent – the states and program and asset managers , Price - the cost of the underlying investment options, and Performance – the plan’s risk adjusted track record and expected future performance. The plans are rated based on a five-tiered scale: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Neutral and Negative. This year, 29 plans were awarded one of the top three ratings and only two plans were rated “Negative”. 2015’s highest rated 529 college savings plans included direct sold options from Maryland, Alaska, Nevada and Utah.

At Savingforcollege.com, we also publish our own 529 Plan Composite Rankings on a regular, quarterly basis, based on the underlying performance of portfolios in seven asset allocation categories. These include separate ranking lists based on distribution – direct-sold plans, advisor sold plans and plans offered through RIA channels – in order to provide an accurate comparison for our readers, depending on how they will purchase their plan.

Savingforcollege.com’s 529 Plan Composite Rankings also include separate lists based on 1-, 3-, 5- and 10-year periods to give families a better idea of how plans are performing currently and since inception. Direct-sold rankings are available to the general public, and advisor-sold and RIA channel 529 plan rankings are available with a Savingforcollege.com premium subscription.

RELATED: 5 ways to judge your 529 plan’s performance

College is a major investment for today’s families, so it’s crucial to ensure you’re using the best plan to help reach your savings goals. The methodologies used by Morningstar and Savingforcollege.com are quite different, so it’s important to explore both studies when evaluating a 529 plan. For example, here’s how Morningstar’s 2015 Gold rated plans fared according to Savingforcollege.com’s 529 Plan Composite Rankings for direct-sold plans, as of June 30, 2015:

RELATED: The 15 lowest-cost 529 plans

Ever wonder how your 529 college savings plan stacks up against the competition? Many families choose a plan simply because their state offers a tax credit or deduction for contributions. 34 states, including the District of Columbia, offer this perk, but in some cases better investment performance or lower fees can outweigh the tax benefits. It’s important for all 529 plan owners to monitor their investment performance, whether or not they’re receiving a state tax break. If you notice a downward trend, you might want to consider another state’s plan. The IRS allows one tax-free rollover in a 12-month period – but be careful - if you have been collecting a state tax deduction you may be subject to a recapture tax when you roll over into another state’s plan.

RELATED: How much is your state tax benefit really worth?

One way to evaluate how your plan is performing is to check Morningstar’s latest 529 plan ratings. Plans were evaluated based on five pillars: Process - the plan’s investment options, People –the reputation of the underlying money managers, Parent – the states and program and asset managers , Price - the cost of the underlying investment options, and Performance – the plan’s risk adjusted track record and expected future performance. The plans are rated based on a five-tiered scale: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Neutral and Negative. This year, 29 plans were awarded one of the top three ratings and only two plans were rated “Negative”. 2015’s highest rated 529 college savings plans included direct sold options from Maryland, Alaska, Nevada and Utah.

At Savingforcollege.com, we also publish our own 529 Plan Composite Rankings on a regular, quarterly basis, based on the underlying performance of portfolios in seven asset allocation categories. These include separate ranking lists based on distribution – direct-sold plans, advisor sold plans and plans offered through RIA channels – in order to provide an accurate comparison for our readers, depending on how they will purchase their plan.

Savingforcollege.com’s 529 Plan Composite Rankings also include separate lists based on 1-, 3-, 5- and 10-year periods to give families a better idea of how plans are performing currently and since inception. Direct-sold rankings are available to the general public, and advisor-sold and RIA channel 529 plan rankings are available with a Savingforcollege.com premium subscription.

RELATED: 5 ways to judge your 529 plan’s performance

College is a major investment for today’s families, so it’s crucial to ensure you’re using the best plan to help reach your savings goals. The methodologies used by Morningstar and Savingforcollege.com are quite different, so it’s important to explore both studies when evaluating a 529 plan. For example, here’s how Morningstar’s 2015 Gold rated plans fared according to Savingforcollege.com’s 529 Plan Composite Rankings for direct-sold plans, as of June 30, 2015:

RELATED: The 15 lowest-cost 529 plans

 

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