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Checklist for the Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Program (Direct-sold)

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 and resident aliens, UGMA/UTMA custodians, and legal entities.
(  ) 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?
An account may be opened with a lump-sum contribution or monthly automatic investment minimum of $25.
(  ) 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 Kansas' 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $345,000.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Will this 529 plan allow my other relatives and friends to make contributions directly to my account?
Yes
(  ) 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 Kansas AND non-Kansas state-sponsored 529 plans of up to $3,000 per beneficiary per year by an individual, and up to $6,000 per beneficiary per year by a married couple filing jointly, are deductible in computing Kansas taxable income. Rollover contributions are not deductible. Contribution deadline is December 31.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
If I live in the state offering this 529 plan, what matching contributions might I be eligible for?
The state will match on a dollar-for-dollar basis contributions above $100 and up to $600 per year by Kansas residents with household incomes below 200% of the federal poverty income level. The program is limited to 300 participants from each of Kansas' four Congressional districts per year. Applications and contributions must be received by December 31 each year.
(  ) 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 portfolios (non-index) are offered in 3 different risk levels: Aggressive, Moderate, and Conservative. Contributions are placed into the portfolio corresponding to the selected risk level and the beneficiary's age. Over time, accounts move between one or more of the 6 portfolios that make up these tracks, eventually ending in the Short-Term portfolio. The program also offers an index age-based track that invests primarily in Vanguard index funds. Accounts will move through one or more of 3 age-based portfolios and eventually end in the Short-Term portfolio.
(  ) 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 14 options: the 100% Equity Portfolio invested in both American Century and Vanguard mutual funds, the Money Market portfolio invested in American Century funds, the 6 multi-fund portfolios used in the non-index age-based tracks, 4 index-fund based portfolios, and the One Choice℠ 2015 and One Choice℠ 2025 Portfolios. The two One Choice℠ portfolios have a defined target year and as that date approaches, the asset mix of the underlying funds will change to a more conservative focus following a pre-set schedule. The underlying funds do not invest in any tobacco-related companies.
(  ) 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?
American Century and 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?
The blended portfolios contain a mixture of actively managed and index funds. There are also all-index options.
(  ) 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?
None.
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
What is the total asset-based expense ratio (or range of ratios) for the investment options in this plan?
0.17% - 1.05%
(  ) 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?
The costs for the Vanguard options in this plan are similar to those in other 529 plans.
(  ) 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 Kansas law, an account in a Kansas 529 plan owned by a Kansas resident for a beneficiary who is a lineal descendant is exempt from creditor claims; protection is limited to $5,000 for amounts contributed between one and two years prior to the date of filing of a bankruptcy petition or execution of judgement for such claims against the account owner, and does not apply at all to amounts contributed within one year of the date of filing/execution.
(  ) 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.upromise.com/acquisitionLanding.do?aqid=moneyforcollegevis&ax=affpartner-stu-SFCb">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.learningquest.com
(  ) Acceptable (  ) Unacceptable (  ) Not Important
Notes: _______________________________________________________________________
Enroll Now in the Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Program (Direct-sold)