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START Saving Program

The START Saving Program requires Louisiana residency to participate. It is subsidized by the state, resulting in no costs to the participant above the underlying fund costs. Vanguard funds and the State Treasurer's fixed income fund are utilized in the age-based and static portfolio options. Louisiana has established a separate program for K-12 savings, the Louisiana Student Tuition Assistance and Revenue Trust Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve Program, or START K12.

Our Ratingx

Fee Scorex

5 of 5

Performancex

3.5 of 5

  • Program typeSavings
  • Inception1997
  • State agency
    Louisiana Tuition Trust Authority (LATTA)
  • Tax deduction
    Tax deduction for single filers $2,400/yr
    Tax deduction for joint filers $4,800/yr
  • Program Manager
    Louisiana State Treasurer
  • Program distributor
    Not applicable
  • Manager contract termUNLOCK PRO

Ratings & Rankings

Our overall rating for LA residents

This is a program that offers outstanding flexibility, attractive investments, and additional economic benefits (such as generous state tax incentives) that for some people, at least, will provide a substantial boost to their savings. There are few, if any, weaknesses noted in the program.

Our overall rating for non-residents

This program is not open to you either because it has residency requirements or because it has stopped accepting new enrollments.

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.


3.80of 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:

The account owner or beneficiary must be a Louisiana resident at the time of program enrollment.

Who can be a participant/owner in the program?

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

Significant time or age restrictions imposed by the program:

Refunds requested from the Fixed Earnings fund within 12 months of opening the account will not return any interest.

Contributions

Maximum contributions:

Accepts contributions until all account balances in Louisiana's 529 plan for the same beneficiary reach $500,000.

Minimum contributions:

$10

Investment Options

Age-based investment options:

Three Age-Based Options contain 4 portfolios of underlying mutual funds. Contributions are placed into the portfolio corresponding to the beneficiary's age, and later reassigned to more conservative portfolios as the beneficiary approaches college age.View more age-based investment options

Static investment options:

Select between the Louisiana Principal Protection Option (100% invested in the state-managed Fixed Earnings Fund), and 6 Vanguard individual fund options.View more static investment options

Underlying investments:

Vanguard LifeStrategy funds (in the Age-Based Option), the Louisiana State Treasurer's fund, and Vanguard Index Funds.View 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:

None.

Program management fees:

None

Expenses of the underlying investments:

None for the Principal Protection fund. Ranges from 0.14% - 0.17% for the Vanguard LifeStrategy funds (Age-Based options; none for Ages 16+), and from 0.04% to 0.35% for the Vanguard individual fund options.

Total asset-based expense ratio:

0.04% - 0.35%. None for the Principal Protection option.

Taxes and other Benefits

  • Tax deduction for single filers$2,400/yr
  • Tax deduction for joint filers$4,800/yr

Example

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

Program match on contributions:

The state provides an earnings enhancement equal to 2% to 14% (depending on income) of a Louisiana participant's contributions when the account is used for qualifying expenses.

State tax deduction or credit for contributions:

Contributions to the Louisiana 529 plan of up to $2,400 per account per year by an individual taxpayer, and up to $4,800 per beneficiary per year by a married couple filing jointly, are deductible in computing Louisiana taxable income. Any unused cap amount with an active account may be carried forward to increase the cap in subsequent tax years. Double deductions of up to $4,800 per year may be claimed for an account opened for an eligible needy, non-related beneficiary. Contribution deadline is December 31.

Contributions to START K12 accounts ARE NOT deductible in computing Louisiana taxable income.

State tax recapture provisions:

The principal portion of nonqualified withdrawals from this plan are included in Louisiana taxable income to the extent of prior Louisiana tax deductions. Rollovers are not subject to recapture.

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.

Louisiana has established a separate program for K-12 savings, the Louisiana Student Tuition Assistance and Revenue Trust Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve Program, or START K12. Account owners can use a START K12 account to save for expenses related to enrollment or attendance at a public or private elementary or secondary school in Louisiana. Withdrawals are limited to $10,000 per tax year, per beneficiary.

START Account Owners who had an account as of December 31, 2017, are allowed to withdraw up to $10,000 from their START accounts during 2018 to pay tuition expenses related to kindergarten through twelve grade of the beneficiary of the existing account. Disbursements may not be more than what was in the account as of December 31, 2017, and they may not exceed the current account balance.

State tax treatment of qualified distributions:

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

State tax treatment of rollovers:

Louisiana follows federal tax-free treatment.

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:

Qualified withdrawals are made payable to the educational institution, beneficiary, or account owner; nonqualified withdrawals (refunds) are made payable to the account owner.

Account Changes

Policy regarding participant/owner changes:

Account ownership may not be transferred prior to the owner's death or incapacity.

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.startsaving.la.gov

Telephone:

1-800-259-5626