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. ™

Morningstar

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:

5 Facts Infographic

Back to School – Start Saving for College Today

students in a class

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.

Edvest Receives 5-Cap Rating from SavingforCollege.com

5StarCapRating

We’re excited to announce that Edvest was awarded a 5-Cap Rating by SavingforCollege.com!*

What is a 5-Cap Rating? A 5-Cap Rating indicates a 529 program that offers outstanding flexibility, attractive investments and additional economic benefits. Every state-sponsored program in the country is reviewed by SavingforCollege.com on a variety of factors that are important to families who are saving for higher education.

Our 529 program was awarded the highest possible score based off a variety of factors, including: performance, costs, features, and reliability. The following are a few of the program’s highlights:

  • Edvest accounts are flexible, not limited by household income, annual contribution limits, or withdrawal schedules
  • Edvest offers 22 investment portfolios varying in style and degree of risk
  • Contributions to Edvest may reduce the taxable income of Wisconsin residents, even non-family members.

James DiUlio, director of the Wisconsin 529 College Savings Program, says “We’re flattered to be recognized by SavingforCollege.com. This recognition reiterates why Edvest is such a great college savings tool for families in Wisconsin.”

 

* Source: Savingforcollege.com, June 4, 2014.
The Edvest College Savings Plan received a 5-Cap Rating for Wisconsin residents and non-residents. A 5-Cap Ratings represents the attractiveness of a 529 plan, relative to all other 529 plans, by assigning an overall rating to each 529 program ranging from 1 Cap (least attractive) to 5 Caps (most attractive). 5-Cap Ratings represent an assessment based on many considerations such as flexibility, liquidity and availability, ownership rights, state benefits, investment approach and safety, program resources and financial aid impact. It is not strictly a measure of historical returns, and it is not a predictor of future investment performance, level of investment risk or financial solvency of the program funds. These ratings are not the result of a fixed formula and a significant portion of the analysis is subjective.
Before establishing a 529 account and making contributions, it is imperative that investors read and understand all enrollment materials and disclosures from the programs.

Big Dreams Require Planning Ahead

Edvest sat down with Mr. and Mrs. Cuong Truong of Milwaukee, Wis. on December 3, 2013 to discuss their experiences with planning for the cost of college.

 

Although their children are only three and four years-old, Mr. and Mrs. Cuong Truong have big dreams for them, including having the financial resources to help each of them attend the college of their choice.

“I was able to attend college through a combination of scholarships, grants, loans and assistance from my parents,” said Mr. Truong. “However, I’m concerned that my children will not have the same scholarships and grants available to them.”

Recognizing this possible reality, the Truong’s decided start planning early for their children’s higher education needs. They opened an Edvest 529 college savings plan for each of their children when they were born.

“As a Wisconsin resident, investing in Edvest’s program just made sense to me because it provides additional tax benefits that I would not get if I chose a different plan. I started building their accounts with birthday and holiday gift money from family and friends. Then, I added automatic monthly contributions.”

Now, as their children prepare to enter kindergarten, the Truong’s are well on their way to helping their children afford a higher education someday – no matter what careers they choose. Truong’s oldest son says he wants to be either a fireman or an engineer. When it comes to selecting which college to attend, his dad may already have something in mind.

“It’s still kind of early for my children to know where they want to go. But, my wife and I are both proud alumni of Marquette University.”

Their advice for parents trying to save for college?

“Get started early and use the power of compounding interest.”

Summer Reading Programs Promote Literacy and Fun

LeapIntoReading

Young minds that sit idle over summer vacation experience “summer slide” – a phrase coined by children’s literacy non-profit, Reading is Fundamental. To combat this, Wisconsin public libraries offer fun, free, summer reading programs.

There are many benefits of summer reading programs for children, according to the American Library Association. Summer reading programs: encourage children to make reading a lifelong habit, draw in reluctant readers through fun activities, help children to keep up their reading skills over the summer, generate interest in libraries and books, and provide an opportunity for fun and quality time with family.

To appeal to different age groups, different types of summer reading programs are offered by Wisconsin public libraries. There are programs that foster early literacy, programs for children, and programs for teens. Programs differ by library branch, but may include reading incentive programs and special events such as story times, crafts, book clubs, guest speakers, field trips, and performers. To learn more about summer reading programs, and sign up your child or grandchild, visit your local participating public library.

This summer, Edvest, the Green Bay Packers, and Wisconsin public libraries are teaming up for the second year in a row to build awareness of summer reading programs. Though a promotion called Leap into Reading, Wisconsin kids can win big while combating “summer slide.” The contest will award 20 lucky Wisconsin winners a $1,000 Edvest College Savings Plan along with four tickets to the 2014 Green Bay Packers Family Night Game or a Green Bay Packers Pro Shop gift card valued at $30. Each winning child’s library will be awarded a $500 cash prize if they also register to win. To enter, and for contest rules, visit www.edvest.com/reading or check out your local participating library.

 

Saving a Little at a Time Adds Up

Edvest sat down with Evelyn Henschel of Milwaukee, Wis. on December 12, 2013 to discuss her experience with planning for the cost of college.

 

As a single mom living on a fixed budget, Evelyn Henschel of Milwaukee, faces many challenges. However, there is one thing that she knows for sure.

“Saving for my son’s education is by far the most important piece of his future,” Henschel says. “Even on a fixed or limited income, this is something that we, as parents, need to do for our children.”

Henschel says personal circumstances delayed her plans of saving for her son’s higher education needs until her was approximately seven years-old. After researching several 529 plans to save for college, she chose the Edvest College Savings Plan.

“I knew the automatic contributions and the tax deduction with Edvest were going to make it easier for me to save.”

Through her dedication, she was able to save up a considerable amount all on her own. Today, her son is a senior in high school and is applying at UW-Milwaukee and a college in Minnesota. She’s extremely proud of all he has accomplished and all that he is dreaming to do with his future.

“I couldn’t start saving any sooner than what I did. But, what I’ve found is that that even a nominal deposit each month will add up.”

Still, she stresses that it’s never too early to start saving.

Henschel’s piece of wisdom for parents looking to save for college?

“We can’t change the cost of college. But, what we can do is plan for it.”

529 College Savings Day is May 29 – Here’s how you can celebrate!

529 Image

May 29th is 529 College Savings Day! A day created to raise awareness of the costs of a higher education, and to educate families that they shouldn’t keep putting off making a plan to save for it.

Why is saving for a higher education so important? According to The College Board’s annual report titled, Education Pays, a college graduate earns on average 61 percent more over a 40-year working career than a typical high school graduate earns over the same period. Plus, having an educated workforce is vital for the future of our communities and country.

James DiUlio, director of the Wisconsin 529 College Savings Program says, “Being able to reach your full potential and love what you do for a living is part of the American dream. No student should have to pass up the opportunity of college, professional school, technical school, or graduate school because they can’t afford to go.”

DiUlio adds, “Edvest and the other 529 college savings plans were designed to be easy ways to help all families save for a higher education. The sooner you start to save with a 529 savings plan, the more time your money has to grow.

“Then, if you can commit to making regular contributions, and enlist the help of family members and friends for contributions in lieu of traditional gifts, little by little, your college savings plan can potentially add up.”

529 College Savings Day is also the perfect day to help educate others about the importance saving for a higher education, how 529 plans work, the affordable plan minimums and the tax advantages contributors receive. Parent organizations, such as PTAs or PTOs, can consider hosting an informational meeting on 529 plans. Employers could elect to sponsor a “brown bag” luncheon for employees about the importance of saving for college.

What are you waiting for? Make May 29th the day you finally commit to starting this important saving process and help others to do so as well.