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GIFT College Investing Plan

The team of Ascensus College Savings and The Vanguard Group manages the Arkansas' GIFT College Investing Plan, featuring age-based and static portfolio options utilizing Vanguard mutual funds, and an FDIC-insured savings option. Accounts can be linked to the Upromise rewards service.

Our Ratingx

3.5 of 5

Fee Scorex

4 of 5

Performancex

3.5 of 5

  • Program typeSavings
  • Inception1999, but substantially changed in February 2005
  • State agency
    The Arkansas 529 Plan Review Committee, composed of the Director of the Department of Higher Education, the Executive Director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, and the Arkansas State Treasurer
  • Tax deduction
  • Program Manager
    Ascensus College Savings, with The Vanguard Group as investment manager
  • Program distributor
    Ascensus College Savings
  • Manager contract termUNLOCK PRO

Ratings & Rankings

Our overall rating for AR residents

This is an excellent program with many benefits for the participant and positive investment attributes. If it has any significant weaknesses then it also has some particularly good things to recommend it.

Our overall rating for non-residents

This is a very good program that offers valuable benefits but may have some limitations or concerns that investors need to know.

Savingforcollege.com's 5-Cap Ratings provides an evaluation and comparison of 529 plans, utilizing a formula that examines dozens of factors grouped into the following categories.


3.53of 5

Each plan's performance score is developed directly from Savingforcollege.com's Quarterly 529 Performance Rankings. A 529 savings plan must have at least one year of performance history before they will be assigned a 5-cap rating. For those plans that are not part of our quarterly performance rankings, such as plans offering a single set of bank-based investment options, we assign a performance score by evaluating the returns currently available on similar types of investments outside of 529 plans.

Eligibility

State residency requirements:

None

Who can be a participant/owner in the program?

U.S. citizens and resident aliens 18 years old or older, UGMA/UTMA custodians, and legal entities.

Significant time or age restrictions imposed by the program:

None

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Contributions

Maximum contributions:

Accepts contributions until all account balances in Arkansas' 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $366,000.

Minimum contributions:

With lump-sum contributions, the minimum initial contribution is $25, and the minimum subsequent contribution is $10. With the automatic investment plan, the minimum contribution level is $10 per month or $30 per quarter via bank transfer or $5 per pay period via payroll deduction.

Investment Options

Age-based investment options:

The Age-Based option is offered in 3 different risk levels (Aggressive, Moderate, and Conservative) each containing 9 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.View more age-based investment options

Static investment options:

Select among 5 multi-fund portfolios with varying risk tolerances, a money-market portfolio, and an FDIC-insured savings option.View more static investment options

Underlying investments:

Vanguard mutual funds, Sallie MaeView a full list of this plan's investment options

Underlying fund allocations:

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Portfolio Fees & Performance Lookup

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Fees & Expenses

Enrollment or application fee:

None.

Account maintenance fee:

$20 annually, waived for Arkansas residents.

Program management fees:

0.48% manager fee; fee includes underlying fund expenses and a 0.07% fee to the state; 0.32% for the Savings Portfolio

Expenses of the underlying investments:

Not applicable, included in the program management fee.

Total asset-based expense ratio:

0.53%; 0.39% for the Savings option

Taxes and other Benefits

  • Tax deduction for single filers$5,000/yr
  • Tax deduction for joint filers$10,000/yr

Example

Married filing jointly residents contributing $100/month can expect an additional $0 a year in tax savings.

Program match on contributions:

The Aspiring Scholars Matching Grant Program program was discontinued as of January 1, 2017 and is no longer available to new account owners. Beginning in 2008, the program provided matching grants of up to $500 annually to eligible Arkansas families, based on household income level. Account owners with matching grant accounts may continue to access matching grant funds for qualified withdrawals until the funds have been exhausted.

State tax deduction or credit for contributions:

Contributions to an Arkansas 529 plan of up to $5,000 per year by an individual, and up to $10,000 per year by a married couple filing jointly, are deductible in computing Arkansas taxable income, with a four-year carryforward of excess contributions. Contributions to a NON-Arkansas plan of up to $3,000 per year by an individual, and up to $6,000 per year by a married couple filing jointly, are deductible. Rollover contributions from another state's plan are deductible in the amount of $7,500 per individual and $15,000 per couple. Employers are allowed a $500 deduction per employee for 529 matches into Arkansas plans. Contribution deadline is December 31, and state must receive it by a specified date following December 31.

State tax recapture provisions:

The principal portion of rollovers and non-qualified withdrawals from this plan are included in Arkansas taxable income to the extent of prior Arkansas tax deductions.

State definition of qualified expenses

The state conforms with the federal definition of qualified education expenses, which includes expenses for higher education, as well as up to $10,000 per year in tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school.

State tax treatment of qualified distributions:

Qualified distributions from Arkansas and non-Arkansas 529 plans are exempt.

State tax treatment of rollovers:

Arkansas follows federal tax-free treatment for rollovers except that outbound rollovers are subject to the recapture of prior state tax deductions. Inbound rollover contributions from another state's plan are deductible in the amount of $7,500 per individual and $15,000 per couple.

Does the sponsoring state exclude the value of an account for state financial aid purposes?

No

Does participation in the program provide beneficiaries with any advantages in qualifying for resident tuition status at state institutions?

No

Does the program have a formal agreement with a rewards program or outside scholarship program?

Yes, the Upromise Rewards program can be linked to any 529 college savings plan. Upromise Rewards is free to join and offers members cash back for college.

Upromise Helps Families Save for College

Upromise Helps Families Save for College

Statutory protection of an account from creditors:

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Distributions & Terminations

To whom are distributions made payable:

Eligible educational institution, beneficiary, or account owner, as directed by the account owner.

Account Changes

Policy regarding participant/owner changes:

Accepts requests to transfer account ownership.

Documents, Access & Reporting

Does participant have online password-protected access to account?

Yes

Can the complete enrollment process including funding be done online?

Yes

Documents and other services accessible or downloadable on the program's public Web site:

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Contact

Website:

http://www.thegiftplan.com

Telephone:

1-800-587-7301