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.


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.” (, 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.


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 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 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, click on “What We Offer” and then select “529 college savings” or visit 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!


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 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

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

Your March Edvest newsletter is here


Wisconsin's College Savings Plan, Edvest

Ready for Tax Time?

Tax time is here, which means if you contributed to an Edvest account in 2015, you could be eligible for certain Wisconsin state tax advantages. If you didn’t, don’t worry. You can open or contribute to an Edvest account right up until April 18th, 2016 and still be eligible for 2015 Wisconsin state tax benefits. 
As a Wisconsin resident, you may be able to reduce your state taxable income by $3,100 per beneficiary. This applies to family and friends who may have contributed too, as long as they reside in Wisconsin. If mailing your contribution, please make sure we receive it by April 18th.Reducing your taxable income isn’t the only tax advantage to saving with Edvest. Any investment earnings can grow tax-deferred at the federal and state level. And, they may be withdrawn tax-free so long as they are used for qualified higher education expenses.The chart below shows the difference between investing in a tax-deferred savings account and a savings account that does not offer tax-free growth potential. As you can see, the difference adds up.

You can learn more about the tax advantages of saving with Edvest by visiting our website, reading our blog, and talking with your tax advisor.

Contribute now, or by April 18th!


This example assumes an initial investment of $5,000, monthly contributions of $100, and a 6% annual rate of return over 18 years. The taxable account assumes a 28% federal and 5% state tax rate. This is a hypothetical illustration that does not represent the performance of any specific investment portfolio. Results will vary with general market conditions and are not guaranteed.

Edvest is proud to sponsor
children’s programming on PBS

Edvest Sponsors PBS Children's Programming
What can adorable woodland creatures tell us about saving? Quite a bit as it turns out. Watch for our latest video on Wisconsin Public Television and Milwaukee Public television to see what we mean. Or, watch it here right now!
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All Edvest social media platforms and blogs are managed by the State of Wisconsin.

Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Non-qualified withdrawal may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax. Before investing in a 529 plan, consider whether the state in which you our your Beneficiary resides has a 529 plan that offers favorable state tax benefits that are available if you invest in that state’s 529 plan.

Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in the Edvest College Savings Plan. Please visit for a Plan Disclosure Booklet containing this and other information. Read it carefully. Investments in the Plan are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is the risk of investment loss.

Neither TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., nor its affiliates, are responsible for the content found on the external website links contained in this newsletter.

This is a commercial message. Please note that we cannot receive responses to this email. If you feel that you are receiving this email by mistake, please unsubscribe. Written inquiries and comments can be sent to:
TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. Program Manager, 8500 Andrew Carnegie Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28262

The Edvest College Savings Plan is administered by the State of Wisconsin. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. Plan Manager. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Member FINRA, distributor and underwriter for Wisconsin College Savings Plans.

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Boost Your Savings this Tax Season

diploma and piggy bank isolated on whiteTax time is a great time to think about opportunities to save more money. Really! Consider the contributions you make to Edvest accounts for your children or grandchildren. If you are a Wisconsin resident, you may be eligible for reductions in your state taxable income of up to $3,100 per child. You do not have to be related to the child to take advantage of the state tax benefit – just a Wisconsin resident.

For example, if you contributed $3,100 per child for two children, it could reduce your state taxable income by $6,200. The lower your taxable income, the lower your taxes. Depending on how much you contribute, if you contribute more than $3,100 per child, you may be eligible for several years of state income tax deductions after your contribution.

Save your refund

Reducing your taxable income is one way to save money. Another is by putting your refund to good use.

If you get a refund, consider using some or all of it as a contribution to your child or grandchild’s Edvest account. It’s a simple way to contribute a little bit more to your child’s future. And, any earnings have the opportunity to grow free from state or federal taxes – another way your savings can add up.

Visit our website to learn more about the tax advantages of saving with Edvest including Wisconsin and Federal tax benefits as well as the opportunities for estate planning and accelerated gifting.

Have questions? Contact the Edvest College Savings Plan directly at 1-888-338-3789, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and visit for the latest state tax information.

For more info or to open an account, visit

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.