529 Day: Celebrating saving!

May 29th is our favorite holiday. Yes, you read that right. 529 Day is a day to raise awareness about how important it is to save money for college! With tuition and expenses on the rise – some estimates putting it at $94K (public university) and $323K (private college or university) in 18 years* – having some money set aside for that future expense is essential.

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What is a 529?

A 529 plan is an account that allows you to save for future education expenses. Just like IRAs and 401(k)/403(b) plans help workers save for retirement, 529 plans were designed to help families save for college. The accounts are administered at the state level, and are managed by a financial services company that handles all the paperwork and oversees the investments. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. is the program manager for 10 state plans.

Families can choose to invest in plans outside of their home state. However, there may be tax incentives for using your state’s official plan. In Wisconsin, Edvest is the state’s official 529 plan partner.

How the plans work

College savings accounts can be opened for children by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – even family friends. Edvest requires a minimum opening balance of $25 and is one of the 15 lowest-cost 529 plans in the country according to SavingForCollege.com with no annual maintenance fees, no sales charges nor commissions.**

Because any earnings the funds make are not taxed as long as they are withdrawn for higher education expenses, savings have an opportunity to grow with the child. Many plans, including Edvest, offer flexibility in how the savings get used. For example, Edvest funds may be used to cover the cost of tuition, room and board, books, or other qualified expenses. Plus, money saved through Edvest can be used at a variety of schools nationwide including:

  • College/University
  • Technical College
  • 2-year programs
  • Graduate school

What’s more, if the child you’ve been saving for chooses not to go to college, the funds may be transferred to another eligible family member.

Saving is more important than ever

As trendspotters predict rising tuition costs, knowing there are programs to help families save can be empowering. (Try our free tuition savings calculator to estimate the impact of your savings.)

You may not save the entire cost of your child’s college expenses, but anything you can put toward it will reduce the amount your child may need to borrow. That means your child will graduate with less debt, and will be more likely to start post-college life on solid financial ground.

The earlier you start saving, the more money your child will have for his or her expenses. Why not celebrate 529 day by opening or contributing to a 529 college savings plan for your child right now? (We think that sounds like a great idea!)

*Source: Savingforcollege.com, The Real Cost of Higher Education, May, 7, 2015. Based on average tuition and fees for 2014-2015 as reported by The College Board® and assumed to increase 5% annually.
**Source: SavingForCollege.com, The Top 15 Lowest-Cost 529 Plans, April 29, 2015.

 

 

Curious where Edvest funds can be used? Well, we’ve got the answer!

It’s a common misconception that Edvest is just for Wisconsin schools. However, while 40 percent of Edvest dollars are redeemed in the state of Wisconsin, Edvest is not just for in state schools. In fact, almost 60 percent of Edvest dollars are used outside of the state.

From Wisconsin to California, Edvest dollars can be used at thousands of eligible educational institutions nationwide – as well as some abroad – including technical schools, four-year colleges and graduate school.

For more information and to view a list of eligible institutions, please visit www.edvest.com.

Top 100 Colleges Using Edvest Funds:

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How to Claim Your Edvest Wisconsin State Tax Reduction for 2014

With the new year in full swing, it’s time to start preparing for tax season.

New for the 2014 Wisconsin state tax return, Edvest College Savings Plan holders – as well as Tomorrow’s Scholar account holders – must file a Wisconsin Department of Revenue Schedule CS to be eligible for any potential reduction in Wisconsin state taxes.

To review, download and print the Schedule CS, please visit: http://www.revenue.wi.gov/forms/2014/ScheduleCS.pdf

For Schedule CS instructions, please visit: http://www.revenue.wi.gov/forms/2014/ScheduleCS_inst.pdf

You may also print copies at public libraries throughout Wisconsin. Please note, if you use online tax preparation software, you may need to contact that service directly to ensure the form is filed appropriately.

 

Have questions? Contact the Edvest College Savings Plan directly at 1-888-338-3789, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST or visit the Wisconsin Department of Revenue Web site at http://www.revenue.wi.gov/. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

 

Also, don’t forget these additional updates made to the Edvest College Savings Plan!
  • You have until April 15, 2015 to contribute in order to be eligible for a potential reduction of your Wisconsin 2014 taxes – up to $3,050 per beneficiary. The amount increases to $3,100 for 2015!
  • Friends and family members may also qualify for the state tax reduction as long as they are Wisconsin residents. No immediate familial relationship to the beneficiary is required.
  • Contributions greater than the eligible amount each year may be used for subsequent years’ state tax benefits until exhausted. For example, a $10,000 contribution may qualify for benefits over three, four, or more tax years.

 

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The tax information contained herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax.

 

Make Saving for College a Priority in 2015

If saving for college, either for your children or your own continuing education, is one of your resolutions this year, here are four tips to help you get started:

Set a Goal

$33,000 is the average student debt per borrower for the class of 2014. With that number continuing to rise, it’s important for families to estimate what college might cost down the road and how much they need to save.

Although this task may seem daunting, Edvest’s College Savings Planner  can help. Using your child’s current age (or your own) you can get a better picture of how much college will cost once your child is college-age, as well as how your contributions will add up.

 Create a Plan

Once you have a clearer picture of how much college will cost, it’s time to evaluate your financial situation. How much can you afford to contribute each month? Are you planning to save for full or partial tuition?

From there, set your goals! The more you invest and the earlier you start, the more your money has an opportunity to grow. $50 per month could mean $26,806 in 18 years, whereas $200 per month could mean $85,200.* Whatever amount you can save, remember that every little bit helps!

Once you have determined how much you can afford to save, the next step is to identify which savings tool is best for you and your family. Edvest offers 22 different investment options, ranging from age-based options to multi-fund portfolios. Each plan varies in investment strategy and degree of risk, allowing you to select one option or a combination of options that will match your investment style and savings goals.

Make it a Habit

After identifying which college savings plan is best for your family, start saving and make it a habit!

Automatic contributions and payroll deductions make it easy to “set it and forget it.” Consistent contributions ensure that your college saving goals stay on track.

Ask for Help

Family members and friends can open an account for your child or contribute to an existing account through Edvest’s gifting program. Contributions can be made online or via the mail and may be eligible for estate and tax benefits – up to $3,100 per beneficiary in 2015. And don’t forget, you may open an Edvest account or contribute to an existing account and still potentially qualify for the Wisconsin tax reduction if you are a Wisconsin resident.

If you’re ready to start saving for college today, or have questions, please visit www.edvest.com  for more info or give us a call at 1-888-338-3789 (Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST)

 

 

The tax information contained herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax.

Edvest Holiday Gift Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to the Edvest Holiday Gift Giveaway Winners!

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Child’s first name Prize
Hunter  Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Vivian  Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Fayth  Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Beverly  Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Jacob  Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Emelynn  Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Owen and Theo Autographed Football
Ella Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Samuel $529 Edvest Account
Anya Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Cayden Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Campbell Return to Titletown book
Ella Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Sarah Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Gavin Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Mya Return to Titletown book
Ashley $200 ProShop Gift Card
Jeremy $529 Edvest Account
Bryanna Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Connor Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Kien Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Deacon Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Flinn Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
 Maelie Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Adriana Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Roman Return to Titletown book
Jaimie Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Adam Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Jace Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Rachel Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Haylee Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Archer Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Leo Green Bay Packers Kids Club membership
Javan $529 Edvest Account

 

Official rules can be found here – 2014 Edvest Gift Giveaway Official Rules.

News Roundup: December 2014

Curious what Edvest has been up to lately?

Click on the links below for our most recent coverage and to hear what Jim DiUlio – the director of Edvest – has to say about increasing cost of college, the benefits of giving the gift of a college education this holiday season, and how easy it is to contribute.

Money Talk with Annex Wealth Management

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Your Talk Show – WCLO

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My Women Magazine

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WAYY – 790 Today

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Give a Gift They Won’t Outgrow

Edvest recently sat down with Jenny Nemke of Mequon, Wis. to discuss her family’s experience with planning for the cost of college.

With two young children at home, Jenny and her husband know that the cost of higher education will be even more expensive than it is now.

“I work on a college campus and see firsthand how difficult it can be for students to afford school,” Nemke says. “Saving even a little each month ensures that we are giving our children a great head start.”

For the Nemkes, saving for college has become a family affair.

When the kids were born, grandma and grandpa opened an Edvest College Savings plan for each of them. They continue to contribute to the accounts on holidays, birthdays, etc. – giving a gift that the kids won’t outgrow.

“Saving for college can be overwhelming, but it’s easier to swallow if you are saving a little at a time,” said Nemke. “Edvest is easy for our whole family to use and small contributions add up, giving our kids a really solid start.”

It’s now easier than ever to give the gift of college savings with Edvest
  • Edvest offers several ways that parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and other family members can give the gift of education for any special occasion throughout the year.
      • The e-Gifting feature allows you to invite friends and family to contribute online, securely and at no cost to a child’s existing account.
        • The invitation goes out via email and the contribution is made in a secure portal.
        • Share the news by printing out an Edvest gift certificate and enclose it with the card or gift you’re already giving to the child.
      • Friends and family members can also mail a gift for an existing Edvest account.
        • By visiting Edvest.com, a gifter can download and complete a gift deposit form, include the account number on the form, and then mail it to Edvest along with a check.
      • New to Edvest? You can open an Edvest account today, and ask friends and family to help you save.
        • You can enroll online or by mail.
        • Note: You will need to know the Social Security Number of the child to finalize the enrollment process.
  • At only $25 to start, Edvest can fit within many holiday shopping budgets.
    • Additionally, Wisconsin residents may be able to reduce their Wisconsin taxable income up to $3,050 per beneficiary if the beneficiary is your child, grandchild, great-grandchild, niece, nephew or yourself.

Edvest Receives Bronze Rating from Morningstar Inc. ™

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We’re excited to announce that the Edvest College Savings Plan was upgraded to a Bronze rating by leading investment research and management firm, Morningstar, Inc. ™

As part of the firm’s annual review of the largest 529 college saving plans, Edvest’s 2014 rating improved from Neutral to Bronze; one of only three new programs to join the bronze-rated group this year.

Why does this matter?

The Morningstar rating is a forward-looking, qualitative ranking that evaluates college savings plans based on five key pillars – Process, Performance, People, Parent and Price.

Designed to help families save for higher education expenses, Edvest is consistently working to ensure plan options meet the evolving needs of account holders. Program upgrades made since October 2012 include:

  • State tax benefits on contributions are now indexed with inflation and for 2014, the first $3,050 qualifies, up from $3,000 last year
  • Increased access to include 22 different investment options, across investment styles ranging from principal-protection to age-based options
  • On average, lowered fees 66 percent so that Edvest ranks among the nation’s lowest fee 529 plans for the second year in a row
  • Improved online and digital access – making it easier for individuals to obtain information, set up accounts and manage funds at com and stay informed at Edvest’s Facebook page , Twitter feed and YouTube Channel
  • Introduced online eGifting – allowing family and friends to contribute online, securely and free of administrative fees

The Bronze ranking from Morningstar comes on top of the 5-Cap Rating, which Edvest received in June from SavingforCollege.com. A 5-Cap Rating indicates a 529 program that offers outstanding flexibility, attractive investments and additional economic benefits. SavingforCollege.com also recently ranked the Edvest College Savings Plan as 7th in the nation in 12-month performance.

“We’re honored with Edvest picking up a second national award this year,” said James DiUlio, director of the Wisconsin 529 College Savings Program. “Morningstar recognized the mix of investment choices, low fees, and tax benefits that make Edvest a wise choice for families here in Wisconsin, as well as nationwide.”

 

In an annual review of the largest 529 college-savings plans (64 total), Morningstar identified 29 plans that rose above their typical peers, awarding those plans Gold, Silver, and Bronze Morningstar Analyst Ratings for 2014. These forward-looking, qualitative ratings signal Morningstar’s conviction in the plans’ abilities to outperform their relevant benchmark and peer groups on a risk-adjusted basis over the long term. Morningstar evaluates college-savings plans based on five key pillars–Process, Performance, People, Parent, and Price. Gold- and Silver-rated plans are those that Morningstar analysts consider the most appealing to college savers, with reasonable fees, strong investment options, and capable oversight. Analysts award Bronze ratings to those plans that also have attractive features, although these plans don’t garner as much conviction as the Gold- and Silver-rated plans. Before establishing a 529 account and making contributions, it is imperative that investors read and understand all enrollment materials and disclosures from the programs.
 

Saving for college? Five things all families should know.

Although College Savings Month is coming to an end, saving for your child or grandchild’s future is an important conversation all year long.

With the cost of postsecondary education continuing to rise, figuring out how and where to start can be overwhelming. As Wisconsin’s 529 College Savings Plan, Edvest is an important resource for families who have made the decision to start saving; as well as those just looking for more information.

Below are five important facts to consider as you work to identify your college savings goals:

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Back to School – Start Saving for College Today

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With many families welcoming a new school year this month, MarketWatch estimates that parents will spend more than $8.4 billion this year on back-to-school gadgets alone.

As costs rise just to get kids out of the door and into the classroom, it’s no wonder that Sallie Mae reported that only 50 percent of American families save for higher education. Additionally, of those polled, only one-third has a plan to pay for college.

Although these statistics are sobering, the importance of a college education as an investment in your child’s future is undeniable and there is no better time than now to start saving.

Where to start?

So often we hear from parents and grandparents from across the state that they want to start a college savings plan for their child or grandchild, but don’t know how. Regardless of where you are at in the process, how much –or how little – you have already saved, Edvest is here to help.

Before another school year slips away, we encourage you to start preparing. To learn more, visit Edvest.com and be sure check out our College Savings Planner. This tool will help you to estimate how much your child will need for school (based on current age, anticipated college/technical college/university and planned or existing college savings) and help identify the best savings plan to meet your financial needs and future goals.

Edvest College Savings Plan Fast Facts:
  • Only $25 needed to start
  • Open an account in minutes
    • Visit com or call us at 1-888-338-3789
  • Easy and accessible contribution options
    • Contributions can be setup through an automatic contribution plan (ACP) from your bank account, electronic deposits or mail checks
  • Relatives and friends can help
    • Use eGift to invite family and friends to contribute at birthdays, holidays and graduations (Wisconsin residents may qualify for a reduction in Wisconsin state income tax)
  • Wisconsin residents may reduce state taxable income
    • Up to $3,050 per beneficiary in 2014
  • Edvest is the fourth lowest cost 529 plan in the country.
    • Lower fees means potentially more money is available for higher education
  • Edvest received a 5-Cap rating from SavingforCollege.com.