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529 E-ditorials

00-8: We're being used
Joe Hurley
Monday, March 20th 2000

A year and a half ago when I wrote the first edition of "The Best Way to Save for College" I included the following prediction:

"It will be very interesting to observe the evolutionary process at work with these programs. Few elected state officials and program directors will be content to operate a plan that is viewed as inferior to other states' programs. The motivation to change state laws and make program improvements will be strong ."

Boy, were we right on that one (not that it was a particularly difficult prediction to make). Since that time there has been a steady stream of improvements being made by many of the state programs -- both prepaid tuition plans and with college savings plans - through legislative changes, rulemaking by the responsible agencies, and program operational processes. Combined with all the brand new 529 plans being opened up, it becomes difficult just to keep up with all the changes.

And I'm proud to say that our opinions, and those of the contributors to our message board, appear to count for something. The "constructive criticism" targeted to certain aspects of many of the 529 plans, both in paper and on the web, seem to have helped spur improvements in several of the state 529 plans over the past few months. We know this from talking with the states and their program managers, and because we have seen references to our opinions pop up in some of the materials produced by the states. Sometimes our comments even seem to be useful in getting laws through the state legislature.
Do we mind being "used" by the 529 plans? Not at all. Our goal is not just to educate people about the 529 plans, but also to make sure that the states provide good programs. And if a 529 plan starts messing up or hiding important information, we'll do our best to uncover it. Congress and the states have done a wonderful thing in developing 529 plans as a way to save for a college education and we like to see people getting the best possible benefit.

So to whoever wants to use us: go right ahead.

» 05-4: The 529 marshals have arrived - 08/30/05
» Our 5.29th-year anniversary - 06/29/05
» 05-2: 529s and the new Bankruptcy Act - 04/28/05
» 05-1: Reform or Deform? - 02/27/05
» 04-6: Perspectives on the 529 debate - 12/28/04
» Show All Archives


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