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Achieve Montana

The Montana Family Education Savings Program -- Investment Plan was renamed Achieve Montana with a new suite of investments added in October 2015. Ascensus College Savings continues to serve as program manager for this direct-sold plan. Five investment options are offered featuring Vanguard and DFA funds as underlying investments and the Capital Preservation Portfolio invested in the New York Life Guaranteed Interest Account. Accounts can be linked to the Upromise rewards service.

Our Ratingx

3.0 of 5

Fee Scorex

1 of 5



  • Program typeSavings
  • Inception2002, but substantially changed in December 2010 and October 2015.
  • State agency
    Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education
  • Tax deduction
  • Program Manager
    Ascensus College Savings, with The Vanguard Group and Dimensional Fund Advisors LP as investment managers.
  • Program distributor
    Ascensus College Savings
  • Manager contract termUNLOCK PRO

Ratings & Rankings

Our overall rating for MT residents

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

Our overall rating for non-residents

This is a recent program and does not yet have a 5-Cap Rating assigned.'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.

5.11of 5

Each plan's performance score is developed directly from'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.


State residency requirements:


Who can be a participant/owner in the program?

U.S. citizens and resident aliens of legal age, UGMA/UTMA custodians, and legal entities. Joint ownership by spouses is permitted.

Significant time or age restrictions imposed by the program:

Qualified withdrawals from this plan within three years of establishing the account are subject to Montana tax at the highest Montana marginal rate to the extent of prior Montana tax deductions, but only after removal of non-deducted contributions.


Maximum contributions:

Accepts contributions until all account balances in Montana's 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $396,000.

Minimum contributions:

$25 or $15 through payroll deduction.

Investment Options

Age-based investment options:

An age-based option, comprised of five portfolios, moves investments automatically from one portfolio to progressively more conservative investments as the beneficiary approaches college age.View more age-based investment options

Static investment options:

Select among six portfolios, Aggressive, Growth, Moderate, Conservative, Income and the Capital Preservation Portfolio invested in the New York Life Guaranteed Interest Account.View more static investment options

Underlying investments:

Vanguard and DFA funds.View a full list of this plan's investment options

Underlying fund allocations:


Portfolio Fees & Performance Lookup


Fees & Expenses

Enrollment or application fee:


Account maintenance fee:

$25 annually, waived for accounts with a Montana resident as beneficiary and for accounts with balances of $25,000 or more and for account with automatic bank deposits or by payroll deduction.

Program management fees:

0.52%; 0.47% for the Capital Preservation option, plus 0.20% administrative fee ( none for the Capital Preservation option)

Expenses of the underlying investments:

Ranges from 0.0% to 0.11%

Total asset-based expense ratio:

0.47% - 0.83%

Taxes and other Benefits

  • Tax deduction for single filers$3,000/yr
  • Tax deduction for joint filers$6,000/yr


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

Program match on contributions:


State tax deduction or credit for contributions:

Contributions to Montana AND non-Montana 529 plans 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 in computing Montana taxable income. Only contributions made by the account owner, the account owner's spouse, or the account owner's custodian/parent are deductible. Contribution deadline is December 31.

State tax recapture provisions:

The principal portion of rollovers, qualified withdrawals within three years of establishing the account, and nonqualified withdrawals from this plan are subject to Montana tax at the highest Montana marginal rate to the extent of prior Montana tax deductions, but only after removal of non-deducted contributions.

State definition of qualified expenses

The state's definition of qualified education expenses currently includes expenses for attendance at an institution of higher education as defined by the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations addressing qualified state tuition programs. This does not include tuition for elementary or secondary education.

State tax treatment of qualified distributions:

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

State tax treatment of rollovers:

Montana follows tax-free treatment for rollovers into a Montana 529 plan. Montana tax treatment of rollovers out of a Montana 529 plan is unclear, as Montana law may require that the rollover be treated as a nonqualified withdrawal.

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


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


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:


Want to Boost your Savings?

You could be saving more with gifts from family and friends. CollegeBacker makes it easy to start a 529 plan, and then invite others to contribute for birthday parties, holidays, or even on a monthly basis.

Start saving with family and friends

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?


Can the complete enrollment process including funding be done online?


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