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.

Top 5 Myths of 529 Plans

529-Day-logo

As part 529 College Savings Day (taking place later this month on May 29), we are taking the opportunity to look at the top five myths associated with 529 plans.

According to James DiUlio, director of the Wisconsin 529 College Savings Program, “Saving for college shouldn’t be a confusing or overwhelming process. It’s important to know the common myths about 529 savings plans so you can understand their value.

“There are also a number of great resources, including college saving calculators and frequently asked questions, on Edvest.com which are helpful in grasping the importance of saving for the costs of a higher education.”

 

Myth #1: It’s too late to start a 529 plan.

It’s never too late to start a 529 plan. Even if your student is in high school or you are planning to enroll in classes soon, you can still take advantage of the tax benefits of a 529 plan. In addition, the more you are able to save now, the less you (or they) will have to borrow later.

 

Myth #2: Edvest can only be used for Wisconsin colleges and universities.

Edvest funds can be used at eligible colleges, universities, graduate schools (including law and medical), technical colleges, and certificate programs throughout the United States as well as many international colleges and universities.

 

Myth #3: If the child I’m saving for doesn’t go to college, I’ll lose my money.

Unlike other college savings options, as 529 plan account owner, you control your account. This means you have the flexibility to change your beneficiary to another eligible “member of the family” (per plan rules) with no tax penalty.

 

Myth #4: Investment decisions are complicated.

Whether you prefer a one-step or do-it-yourself strategy, 529 plans generally offer several investment types that can meet your level of investment comfort. Edvest’s one-step strategy is a simple age-based option where your investment becomes more conservative as your beneficiary gets closer to college age. Our do-it-yourself strategy offers a range of individual portfolios that allow you to create your own investment plan.

 

Myth #5: A 529 plan is only for kids.

Have you been considering career change that requires retraining or earning an advanced degree? There’s no maximum age for a 529 plan. As long as the school you select is eligible, you can use your 529 plan assets even if you’re not enrolled full-time.

Money Smart Week Wisconsin 2014

Money Smart Week Wisconsin is coming up April 5-12. Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, its purpose is to help participants better understand and manage their personal finances. To celebrate this special week, hundreds of educational financial events for people of all ages are planned throughout Wisconsin. Two specific Money Smart Week initiatives Edvest is happy to be sponsoring and participating in include:

 

The Big Read

The Big Read is a community-wide reading program aimed at helping young children understand the benefits of saving and starting them down the path of financial literacy. Participating schools and libraries will be reading “Curious George Saves His Pennies” by Monica Perez and “Bunny Money” by Rosemary Wells, as well as talking about the importance of saving for a rainy day. To find the closest Big Read event near you, use the Money Smart Week Event tool Money Smart Week Events or contact your local library or school to find out if they are participating. The Big Read books is coordinated by the Department of Financial Institutions and co-sponsored by the Edvest College Savings Plan and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.

CuriousGeorgePennies_hres

Money Smart Week Kick-off in Fond du Lac

Edvest is pleased to be a presenter at the Fond du Lac Women’s Conference on Saturday, April 5, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Moraine Park Technical College. The conference offers women smart tips, facts and inspiring personal narratives on saving and managing money and features keynote speaker Alice Wood, author of “Wealth Watchers.” Learn more at: Fond du Lac Money Smart Week Women’s Conference

 

To learn more about Money Smart Week, please visit the program Web site at: MoneySmartWeek.org

Give Your Newborn a Head Start on College

college_baby

If you’re a new parent or grandparent, it’s hard to image anything more important than caring for the day-to-day (and often minute-by-minute) needs of your new bundle of joy. But, to give your child the best start in life, it’s important to think a bit further down the road – their college education. So, between the feedings and diaper changes, we encourage you to take one sleep-deprived minute and read these three, great reasons to start saving for college early. With the rising cost of college and the importance of a degree, it could be one of the most important things you do for your baby.

Here are three great reasons to start saving early:

The cost of a college education in 18 years is projected to be much higher than today. According to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2013, the average cost of a 4-year degree at a public college today is approximately $18,000 per year. For private colleges today, the cost is more than $40,000 per year. Eighteen years from now, the same education could cost nearly $250,000. To learn how much you need to save, explore Edvest’s college savings planner by plugging in colleges from across the country and estimating your monthly savings rate.

The earlier you start, the more your money has the opportunity to grow. Setting aside $50 a month in an Edvest college savings plan when your child is a newborn, for example, can accumulate to more than $25,000 by the time they head off to college. However, waiting until your child is 12 years old and set aside the same monthly amount, it will accumulate to just under $8,000. As this chart illustrates, the sooner you start, the sooner you can take advantage of the compounding effect of time on your investment. Set your goals and start saving today.

The longer your time horizon, the more opportunities and life events you can take advantage of. Between monthly savings, tax refunds, bonuses and inheritances, you can give yourself more opportunities to fund your account if you start an Edvest account early. Plus, the more time you have, the more you can take advantage of gifts to your child for birthdays, holidays, graduations, and more.

There are a few simple steps parents and grandparents can take to chip away at the cost:

Contribute on a regular schedule. Once you open an Edvest account, you can easily set up an automatic contribution plan or inquire with your employer about an available payroll deduction plan.

Develop a discipline of savings versus spending. There are lots of great resources for choosing a savings goal, developing a plan, creating a budget, and finding creative ways to save money. The website, www.americasaves.org is a great resource for getting started.

Friends and family can help, too. With Edvest’s e-Gifting feature, you can enlist the help of others to contribute to your child’s college education. With a few clicks, you can invite friends and family to securely contribute to an Edvest account online.  There’s even a selection of gift certificates that can be downloaded and presented to the child. Plus, any Wisconsin resident who contributes to a relative’s account can take advantage of a Wisconsin state income tax reduction of up to $3,000 per child per year.

Remember, it’s never too early to start saving for college. With so many benefits to starting an Edvest college savings plan early, you shouldn’t wait a minute longer. Build a bright future for your baby and open an Edvest account today.