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Checklist for the Direct Portfolio College Savings Plan

The Savingforcollege.com 529 Selection Checklist is a simple tool designed to assist you in your research and selection of a 529 college savings plan. Before investing in a 529 plan, be sure to read the official program offering materials.

Steps:

  1. Use a separate checklist for each 529 plan you are considering.
  2. Use the "Notes" line to add any notes or thoughts you feel are relevant to that particular question. Information about the 529 plan being evaluated can be gathered from its official program disclosures, the plan web site, and third-party sources like Savingforcollege.com.
  3. Use the "Acceptable, Unacceptable, or Not Important" checkboxes to indicate your conclusions as to how well the 529 plan you are evaluating meets the various criteria. Some criteria will not make any difference in your selection of your plan and should be noted as Not Important. In lieu of simply indicating acceptable or unacceptable you may want to develop a rating scale, e.g. 1 through 5.
  4. Compare the checklists for the various 529 plans being considered and use the results to help you select the appropriate 529 plan.

Enrollment Issues:

Who is eligible to use this particular 529 plan?
U.S. citizens or resident aliens, trusts, 501(c)(3) organizations, and local governments.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
How do I enroll: through a financial advisor (generally higher expense) or directly with the program (generally lower expenses)?
Enroll directly with the program.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
What, if any, age or time limits are imposed by this 529 plan that may restrict how long I can hold the plan?
None
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Can I complete the enrollment process for this 529 plan online (including funding the account)?
Yes
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Can I meet the plan's minimum contribution requirements either with a lump-sum contribution or by signing up for automatic contributions?
The minimum initial contribution is $25, and the minimum subsequent contribution is $15.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Is the plan's maximum contribution limit high enough to accommodate my college funding desires?
Accepts contributions until all account balances in Colorado's 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $350,000.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Will this 529 plan allow my other relatives and friends to make contributions directly to my account?
Yes, and through Ugift--Give College Savings, families and friends may be invited via e-mail invitation or gift contribution coupon to make contributions to the account.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________

Program benefits:

If I live in the state offering this 529 plan, what are the state income tax deductions or credits I can claim for my contributions to it? (Note: If you live in Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Maine, and Pennsylvania you do not have to use the in-state 529 plan to claim a deduction).
Contributions to a Colorado 529 plan, to the extent of the contributor's Colorado taxable income, are deductible in computing Colorado taxable income. Rollover contributions are not eligible for the deduction.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
If I live in the state offering this 529 plan, what matching contributions might I be eligible for?
The Matching Grant Program provides a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $500 in contributions for lower- to middle-income Colorado residents to accounts with an eligible beneficiary (a dependent under age 13 at the time of initial application). Applications are accepted each year between September 1 and December 31. The match can extend for a maximum five years. Matching grants for future years are subject to continued funding by the sponsor. The CollegeInvest 529 Scholarship provides a $2,000 scholarship to any full-time student who is a Colorado resident, has maintained or has had a parent/guardian maintain a CollegeInvest account for at least two years, and can substantiate an expected family contribution (EFC) of $25,000 or less. The scholarship is renewable each year up to a total of four years or $8,000. Applications are accepted January 1 through July 31.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
If the state offering this 529 plan administers its own student financial aid programs, will my account in this plan be excluded for purposes of determining eligibility?
No
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
If I prefer an investment that automatically changes to a more conservative asset mix as my child approaches college age, what "age-based" options are offered in this 529 plan?
The Age-Based option is offered in 3 different risk levels (Aggressive, Moderate, and Conservative) each containing 4 or 5 portfolios of underlying mutual funds. Contributions are placed into the portfolio corresponding to the risk level selected and the number of years to expected enrollment, and later reassigned to more conservative portfolios as the beneficiary approaches college age.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
If I prefer one or more investments that do not adjust over time, what "static" options are offered in this 529 plan?
Select among 5 multi-fund portfolios with varying risk tolerances and 3 individual-fund portfolios.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Which mutual fund families, or other investment managers, are utilized in this 529 plan? Do the investment options consist of a single fund family or a mix of fund families?
Vanguard mutual funds.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Does my preferred investment option in this program include foreign stocks, real estate, inflation-adjusted securities, or other sectors that I feel are desirable?
Check the program offering materials to see the specific mutual funds used.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Which type of mutual funds does my preferred investment option use: actively managed funds or passively managed index funds?
Mostly index funds
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
What is my assessment of the quality of the particular investment options in this 529 plan?
You will need to make this judgment.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
How acceptable is the range of investment options in this 529 plan in the event I wish to change investment options in the future?
You must make this judgment recognizing that some 529 plans have many options while others may have just a few.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________

Fees and expenses:

How much is the enrollment fee in this 529 plan? Do I qualify for a waiver?
None.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
How much is the account maintenance fee in this 529 plan? Do I qualify for a waiver?
$20 for accounts with less than $10,000, waived for Colorado residents and for accounts opting to receive all documents electronically.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
What is the total asset-based expense ratio (or range of ratios) for the investment options in this plan?
0.39%
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
How do the fees and expenses of this program compare to other 529 plans that offer investment options very similar to my preferred investment option in this program?
Similar investments may be found in other Upromise-managed 529 plans at slightly lower cost.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________

Other issues:

What are the special creditor protections for this 529 plan under the laws of the sponsoring state?
Under Colorado law, moneys credited to or expended from the Colorado savings trust fund by or on behalf of an account owner, depositor, or designated beneficiary of a savings contract are exempt from all claims of creditors of the account owner, depositor, and designated beneficiary.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Is this 529 plan linked into my favorite rewards service (e.g. Fidelity 529 College Rewards Card, Futuretrust, Upromise)?
Yes, with the http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-1656091-10575137?cm_mmc=CJ-_-1532179-_-1656091-_-Upromise%20Standard">Upromise rewards</a> service.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Will I have online access to my account for looking up my account values, etc?
Yes
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Who can I name as "payee" on distributions from this 529 plan? How easy is the process of requesting distributions?
Eligible educational institution, beneficiary, or account owner, as directed by the account owner. Check program materials to determine the process for submitting distribution requests.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Will this 529 plan accept my request to transfer the account owenership to someone else?
Accepts requests to transfer account ownership.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
How thorough and understandable are the program's official disclosure materials, and how much help is available through the programs web site, call center, etc.?
You will need to make this judgment.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Are there any other considerations unique to this program that can be considered advantages or disadvantages?
You may notice other differences not included on this checklist.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Before investing, be sure to read and understand the official program materials provided on the 529 plan's website.
http://www.collegeinvest.org/parents/collegeinvest-savings-plans/direct-portfolio-college-savings-plan/
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Enroll Now in the Direct Portfolio College Savings Plan