Edvest Receives 5-Cap Rating for Third-Straight Year

Edvest College Savings Plan is happy to announce that it received SavingforCollege.com’s 5-Cap Rating for Wisconsin residents for the third consecutive year! Edvest offers attractive plan features such as a Wisconsin state tax deduction, a wide range of investment choices as well as little to no fees, including no sales commissions, no annual maintenance fee, and no application fee. Edvest also received a 4.5-Cap Rating for non-Wisconsin residents.

“We are excited and quite honored to receive a 5-Cap Rating from SavingforCollege.com again this year,” said Jim DiUlio, director of Edvest. “This award recognizes the continued strength and stability of Edvest as one of the country’s leading 529 plans.”

Each year, SavingforCollege.com conducts a nation-wide review of 529 savings plans and assesses multiple factors like performance, cost and reliability. Receiving a 5-Cap rating is an incredible distinction as it demonstrates that a 529 plan like Edvest provide outstanding flexibility, attractive investments as well as additional economic benefits, such as state tax benefits.

*Source: Savingforcollege.com, December 1, 2016.The Edvest College Savings Plan received a 5-Cap Rating for Wisconsin residents and 4.5-Cap Rating for 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.

Give the Gift of a Lifetime: A College Education

Every year shoppers line up outside of stores for hours with hopes of nabbing the latest and greatest holiday gifts for their favorite boys and girls. This year, skip the hassle and give the gift of education. Edvest College Savings Plan makes it easy to gift with these simple options:

  1. Give a new Edvest Gift Card, available for purchase at Edvest.com
  2. Invite family & friends to eGift directly into an Edvest account online, securely
  3. Write a check or open and fund an Edvest account


Just in time for the holidays, Edvest now offers gift cards available for online purchase. With denominations ranging from $25 to $500, gifts can be sent to your budding scholar via email, text message or as a physical card. Gift cards have no expiration date for redeeming the funds.

Another gifting option is Edvest eGift – a secure, online platform for friends and family to gift to a child’s 529 account at no charge. eGift now offers gifting codes that can shared via email and social media accounts and never expire! Friends and family can reuse the code as often as they like, making repeat contributions even easier. Users will also notice eGift’s new look with cleaner, more user-friendly interface and personalized gifting options for any occasion.

Those who wish to make a onetime gift to the 529 account via check can complete the simple gift deposit form and mail it with the contribution. If your child doesn’t already have a plan with Edvest, start a 529 account during the holiday season. It takes only $25 and 15 minutes to make a lifelong impact.

Tax advantages of gifting
Along with helping your child succeed, you’ll enjoy some tax advantages when you contribute to an Edvest account. If you are a Wisconsin resident, you may qualify for state tax advantages when you make a gift. (That goes for in-state family and friends, too.)

  • Edvest contributions by Wisconsin residents can reduce their state taxable income by up to $3,100 per beneficiary each year.
  • Any account earnings can grow federal and Wisconsin income tax-deferred.
  • Funds may be withdrawn tax-free when they are used for qualified higher education expenses.

Limitations may apply. See Plan Disclosure Booklet.

Morningstar: “Edvest College Savings Plan is a solid offering … for residents and nonresidents alike”

Edvest, Wisconsin’s 529 College Savings Plan, maintains Bronze rating from Morningstar Inc.

We’re very happy to announce that Edvest College Savings Plan once again received a Bronze rating, awarded by independent investment research and management firm, Morningstar, Inc. ™1 In their analysis, Morningstar noted Edvest’s breadth of investment options and the low costs associated with the plan during its annual review.

Investment Options

Morningstar’s analysis identified Edvest as a 529 plan that “pairs its actively managed risk-based portfolios with a set of primarily index based portfolios,” which meet the needs of both passive and active investors. Morningstar also commended the wide range of individual options offered, including the unique principal plus option with a guaranteed return of 1.25% through December of this year.

Low Costs

Morningstar specifically pointed out that Edvest is one of just a few states to offer such a wide variety of attractive investment options at such competitive prices. Edvest has no application, annual account maintenance, cancellation, change in beneficiary, or change in investment portfolio fees. Plus, the Plan’s annual asset-based fees range from as low as 0.00 to 0.43 percent. And of course, low fees can mean more money saved for higher education costs.

“We are always excited to receive recognition for our hard work here at Edvest,” said Jim DiUlio, Director of Edvest. “So much time and energy goes into maintaining a strong 529 plan like Edvest, which balances a wide variety of investments with low cost, creating value intensive plans for families looking to save for higher education.”

In addition to the Bronze rating, Edvest was recently ranked as the 529 plan with the 4th lowest fees in the nation by Strategic Insight.2 Learn more about the ranking here.

 

1In an annual review (10/25/2016) of the largest 529 college-savings plans (63 total), Morningstar identified 33 plans that rose above their typical peers, awarding those plans Gold, Silver, and Bronze Morningstar Analyst Ratings for 2016. 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. For more information about Morningstar’s overview of Edvest go to 529.morningstar.com. Past performance does not predict future results. Source: http://news.morningstar.com/

2The Strategic Insight 529 College Savings Quarterly Fee Analysis (Q2 2016) is based on program descriptions and participating agreement documents gathered by a third-party research firm and analyzed by Strategic Insight. As part of the process, Strategic Insight analyzes the 529 program manager and state agency disclosure statements, press releases and organization websites to ensure data quality and categorization. The average minimum, maximum and total annual asset based fees at the plan levels are calculated via an un-weighted index average, or arithmetic mean method.

 

College: The way you pay matters

September 1st kicks off College Savings Month – a time to assess your savings goal progress. As college costs continue to rise, more students are relying on loans to pay for tuition and supplies. Although using loans is common, the long-term impact of carrying large amounts of debt post-graduation can come as an unwelcome surprise to many young adults. Fortunately, there are steps families can take to help students reduce the need to borrow.

Loan debt and life after college

A recent government study, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015, published in May of this year cites the average monthly loan payment graduates are making as $533. Making that payment, along with covering rent, utilities, and basic needs on an entry-level salary can be daunting. Add trying to save for a wedding, car, or a down payment on a home into the mix, and it’s easy to see why young people are frustrated.

What’s more, for some juggling all of those bills can lead to late or missed payments, which in turn can hurt credit scores and add one more hurdle to overcome.

As the chart below illustrates, an education funded by savings costs less than one funded by loans. If you’re relying largely (or entirely) on savings, the cost to you is simply the amount of money you put into your account. If your account offers a rate of return or interest, you have the potential to earn money on top of your savings. If your account offers tax-free growth of any earnings, you have the potential to keep more of what you earn. By contrast, loans charge you interest so you wind up paying more than the amount of college tuition and other related expenses.

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Source: Savingforcollege.com
This chart hypothetically assumes four years of college (current annual cost of $20,000) for a child born today. To meet that expense 18 years from now, you would need to save $448 per month (from birth) in a 529 plan — totaling $207,456; $113,000 in contributions and $94,456 in earnings, assuming a conservative 5 percent college cost inflation rate and a 6 percent annual investment return. If the same funds were borrowed to pay for college rather than saving and investing your child would graduate owing about $276,383 in loans. This translates into a monthly payment of approximately $2,303 over 10 years, assuming a 6 percent loan interest rate. In other words, college would end up costing an additional $163,383, or more than double in out-of-pocket costs, than if you had saved and invested in advance.

Saving strategies for kids of all ages

If you’re a young parent, you may be feeling the squeeze firsthand. And, given recent trends, chances are good that you put off starting your family until your debt was under control.

Save first

So how can you help your own children avoid the same squeeze when it’s time for them to head to college? Start saving now, even if it’s a modest amount every month. Edvest accounts can be opened for $25. There is no application fee, no sales fee, no commissions paid on accounts, no annual maintenance fee, and our asset-based fees rank fourth lowest among direct-sold 529 plans nationwide* – all of which helps make saving for college more affordable for Wisconsin families.

Cost-effective college credit

As your kids get a little older, taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school can be a way to get college credit before college (and reduce the number of classes you’ll need to pay for). Enrolling in a two-year UW College or Wisconsin Technical College to cover freshman and sophomore level classes can also be more affordable than going directly to a larger university or college after high school. Just be sure to research which credits transfer from one institution to the next.

Start saving early, and save often

There is a clear advantage in starting your child’s college savings as early as possible. (Remember, it’s good to save whatever you can whenever you can, so if your “baby” is a tween, don’t use that as an excuse to avoid saving.) Starting early can position you to best harness the power of compounding, the calculation of return/interest on initial principal plus the accumulated interest from prior periods. Investopedia encourages investors to think of compounding as “interest on interest that will make a deposit or loan grow at a faster rate than simple interest, which is interest calculated only on the principal amount.” (Investopedia.com, 8/31/2016) Try our calculator to get an idea of how your savings can add up.

Contributing to your child’s account regularly can help you build savings and get closer to your goal. You can set up automatic deposits from a bank account or automatic payroll deduction. Although saving for college might feel unattainable, like any major financial goal, it’s much easier to potentially achieve over time.

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This chart assumes a $5,000 lump sum investment, a $100 monthly investment and 6% annual rate of return. The calculations are for illustrative purposes only and the results are not indicative of the performance of any investments. The calculations do not reflect any plan fees or charges that may apply. If such fees or charges were taken into account, returns would have been lower. With any long-term investment, investment return may vary. Such automatic investment plans do not assure a profit or protect against losses in declining markets.

Encourage family and friends to gift

You can also let family and friends know that Edvest would be a welcome gift for birthdays, holidays, or graduations. They can contribute online or by mail, and if they’re Wisconsin residents they could be eligible for tax benefits.

Making a contribution to an Edvest account is simple, and there are options for everyone:

  • eGift – Invite friends and family to gift into your child’s account securely, online at no charge.
  • Check/electronic transfer – Download a gift deposit form and mail to Edvest with a completed check (account owner will need to share the Edvest account number) or make a one-time electronic transfer from a bank account.
  • Open an Edvest account for the child or grand-child in your life and set up automatic contributions.

Visit Edvest.com/gift for downloadable gift certificates to let you know a contribution has been made to your child’s account.

Adding it all up

With commitment, a plan that’s right for your family, and savings tools such as Edvest, you can make a real difference when it comes to paying for your child’s higher education costs.

But don’t take our word for it. Just watch this short video to learn what one Edvest user was able to accomplish.

Ready to open your own account? Visit Edvest.com to get started.

* The Strategic Insight 529 College Savings Quarterly Fee Analysis (Q2 2016) is based on program descriptions and participating agreement documents gathered by a third-party research firm and analyzed by Strategic Insight. As part of the process, Strategic Insight analyzes the 529 program manager and state agency disclosure statements, press releases and organization websites to ensure data quality and categorization. The average minimum, maximum and total annual asset based fees at the plan levels are calculated via an un-weighted index average, or arithmetic mean method.

Win $529 for College

Help us celebrate 20 years of 529 college savings plans!

In 1996, Congress established a new way to help Americans save for higher education by creating section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. One year later, Wisconsin established the state’s own 529 college savings plans, today known as the Edvest College Savings Plan (direct-sold) and Tomorrow’s Scholar (advisor-sold).

With more than 11.7 million 529 college savings plan accounts totaling more than $235.4 billion as of March 31, 2016, it’s clear that 529 college savings plans nationwide have had a tremendous impact on how Americans save for college.*

In recognition of this milestone anniversary, TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., a national leader in the program management of 529 college savings plans, and Plan Manager of the Edvest College Savings Plan, announced an opportunity for a chance to win $529 toward Edvest or another TFI-managed 529 college savings plan. For official rules, prize details and to enter, visit tiaa.org, click on “What We Offer” and then select “529 college savings” or visit www.529turns20.com. Online entries must be submitted by August 31, 2016 and one winner will be randomly selected from among all entries in September.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Sponsored by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc.

*Strategic Insight, 1Q2016 529 Quarterly Data Update, 4/29/16.

 

 

Our Rookie Reporter contest is back!

RookieReporter

Last year, six Wisconsin kids had the opportunity of a lifetime: interviewing a Green Bay Packers player or coach one-on-one. We’re thrilled to bring the Rookie Reporter contest back for 2016!

Each of the six Grand Prize winners will have the chance to ask questions of a current Green Bay Packers player or coach. Then, their interview will be shown on the big screen during a game at Lambeau Field during the 2016-2017 season.

Rookie Reporter winners will also receive:

  • $1,000 Edvest gift card to kick start their college savings
  • A family 4-pack of tickets to the regular season home game where their interview will be shown
  • An autographed football and a Packers mini-helmet

Just visit packersrookiereporter.com to enter your kids, and get the official contest rules.

Then start thinking of a few great questions to ask. Our suggestions: What does it feel like to catch a football in a game? Would you rather have a pet otter or a pet hedgehog?

Rookie Reporter eligibility is limited to legal residents of the state of Wisconsin who are at least 18 years of age and are the parent, grandparent or legal guardian of a Wisconsin child, age 6 to 15 years. Limit of one (1) entry per child. Online entry closes 7/17/2016. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. No Wisconsin tax funds are used for prizes or other costs of this promotion. Sponsored by the Edvest College Savings Plan.

529 Plans are Turning 20!

thumbnail_529dayThis year on May 29 (aka National 529 Day), we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of 529 college savings plans. Named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue code, “qualified tuition program,” 529 plans were intended to make it easier for American families to save for college.

How 529 plans help families save

It’s no secret that the cost of college has risen over the years. Most experts predict the trend to continue with some studies estimating costs over $300,000. 529 college savings plans, like Edvest in Wisconsin, help parents save toward that cost. For example, Edvest accounts can be opened with just $25, and have options to make saving simple including direct deposit, the ability to contribute online, and the option to let friends and family members gift to your child’s account.

You may not wind up saving the entire amount of your child’s tuition. But, the more your child has saved by college, the less he or she will need to borrow in the form of student loans. That means the amount of debt your child has to repay after graduation could be far less than if he or she had no college savings. What’s more, Edvest funds can be withdrawn free from state or federal taxes when they are used for qualified higher education expenses.

529 plans are popular

Data from the past 20 years shows that 529 college savings plans have grown in popularity. In 1996, the first year they were in use, families invested $2.4 billion in the plans. Today, 529 plan assets total around $253.2 billion.

Individual account size – how much each family has saved – has also grown over the years. In 1996, the average amount saved was around $9,600. Today it’s closer to $20,190. Part of the reason for the increase is that any earnings in the accounts have the opportunity to grow free from state or federal income tax meaning more money stays (and potentially grows) in your account.

Celebrate 529 Day with Edvest

It’s never too late to start saving for your child’s higher education expenses. Getting started with Edvest, Wisconsin’s Official College Savings Plan, can be done in about 15 minutes with just $25.

With a variety of investment options to choose from, low fees, and tax advantages for qualified Wisconsin residents, Edvest makes it easier for more families to save for college. Why not celebrate 529 plans turning 20 by opening an account or contributing to one today?

Navigating your 529 options

529 college savings plan theme with textbooks and piggy bank
With so many 529 college savings plans out there, how do you know you’re choosing the right plan for your family? Use the questions and answers below as a guide to help you evaluate your options.

Does the plan offer tax benefits?

One of the first things to look for is whether your home state’s 529 plan offers tax benefits for you or your beneficiary if you use that plan. For example, Edvest is Wisconsin’s Official 529 College Savings Plan. Wisconsin residents who save with Edvest may be eligible for these benefits:

  • Reduce their state taxable income by $3,100 per beneficiary per tax year
  • Any account earnings may grow free from state and federal income taxes
  • State and federal tax-free withdrawals when used for qualified expenses

Learn more about Edvest’s tax advantages on Edvest.com.

What fees are associated with the plan?

Most 529 plans have some fees associated with them. However, the type and amount of fees are not always the same from one plan to the next. A 529 plan with low fees helps make saving for college more affordable for more families. Low-fee plans not only save your family money, they also keep more of the money you save going directly to your savings goal.

Edvest was recently ranked the 529 plan with the 4th lowest fees in the nation by Strategic Insight. Learn more about the ranking here.

Are there a variety of investment options?

There’s no one right way to save. The number of years you have to save before your child reaches college, your personal risk tolerance, and family budget all play a role in how your family saves.

Look for a 529 program that offers a variety of investment options. That will help you find the plan that best matches your unique situation. Edvest offers a variety of options including age-based options, multi-fund options, single-fund options, and stable principal options.

How will the plan help me reach my savings goals?

Before you choose a plan, think about how you’ll use it. It’s a good idea to look at the tools available to help you manage your savings. For example, if you want to make your contributions and manage your account online, make sure the plan you are choosing has the option. Some other helpful features to look for include:

  • Gifting options – can friends and family contribute to the account?
  • Payroll deduction – can you contribute directly from your paycheck? What is the minimum amount required?
  • Tools and resources – how easy is it to get your questions answered?

Taking a little time to learn more about the 529 savings plan options available can ensure you’re making a decision you and your family can feel good about.

529 Facts

Saving for your child’s college education is important. A 529 college savings plan, such as Edvest, can make saving simple.

College savings accounts can be opened for children by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – even family friends. Edvest’s minimum opening balance is just $25, which helps make saving affordable for more Wisconsin families.

Check out our infographic to learn more about the numbers behind 529 college savings plans.

1084_EDVT_529DayInfographic 02

Where in the world do Edvest funds go?

Funds saved through Edvest can be used at higher education institutions nationwide, and even at some schools abroad. So where are students going with their Edvest college savings?

From Wisconsin to California, Edvest dollars can be used at thousands of eligible institutions including technical schools, four-year colleges and graduate schools. In fact, just over 60% of funds are used at out-of-state schools. Check out the infographic to see exactly where students are going.

Top 100 Infographic 2016

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