• Ohio 529 Plan Ranks High Nationwide In Long-Term Performance

    by Amy Lyle | Mar 29, 2017

    Investing in a child’s future calls for a long-range vision, especially if the one of the objectives includes a college education. 529 college savings plans are a great way to save over time in a tax-advantaged manner. No matter the age of a child, it is never too early and it is never too late to start saving for future college costs. However, the sooner the 529 account is started, the longer there is to reach college savings goals.

    Long-Term 529 Investment Performance

    An important component of a 529 account is its long-term investment performance when saving for future college costs. SavingForCollege.com — an industry-trusted informational website which provides researched articles on 529 plans, financial aid, scholarships, and tools to estimate college expenses — analyzed the performance of the nation’s 529 plans and ranked them. Ohio 529 Saving Plan has consistently received high ranks for its investment performance.

    As of Dec. 31, 2016, College Advantage Direct 529 Plan was ranked sixth overall in the nation in the three-year performance; second overall in the five-year performance, and third overall in the 10-year performance.*

    SavingForCollege.com determined the performance score by comparing seven similar asset-allocation categories between all the nation’s 529 plans, the historical performance of each selected portfolio category, and then averaging the score of all the groupings. The rankings were then based on one-year, three-year, five-year and ten-year performance scores.

    Long-term investment performance is a key factor that can build a 529 account. There are other elements that can contribute to its growth.

    Compound Interest – A 529 Plan Powerhouse

    By setting aside college savings in a 529 plan early in a child’s life, the 529 account will benefit from compound interest through investing over the years. Compound interest is a saving powerhouse as it’s the “interest computed on the sum of an original principal and accrued interest,” according to Merriam-Webster. For 529 plans, compound interest is based on contributions, earnings, and interest already accumulated in the account.

    Compound interest in a 529 college saving plan is a huge advantage; however, compound interest in student loans is a huge disadvantage. This is one of many reasons why 529 plans are a great alternate to student loan debt, which currently stands at $1.3 trillion held by 44 million borrowers in America. Saving for college now is far cheaper than paying off student loans debt later in life.

    529 Plan Tax Advantages

    CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, helps families across the nation save money for their children’s future college costs with tax-advantaged benefits. First, all contributions and earnings grow tax-free in a 529 plan. Second, when a 529 account withdrawal is requested to cover qualified higher education expenses, the amount taken out will be tax-free. Third, a CollegeAdvantage account owner who is an Ohio resident can deduct 529 contributions from their Ohio taxable income, up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap. The taxpayer can continue to subtract $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, from their Ohio taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.

    Interested in opening an Ohio 529 plan? The CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan offers a variety of investment options — from ready-made, age-based or ready-made, risk-based portfolios; to investment vehicles to build a portfolio based on an individual’s risk tolerance, investing preferences, and savings goals; to FDIC-insured banking options. Ohio’s Direct 529 plan has partnered with leading investment managers Vanguard, Dimensional Fund Advisors, and Fifth Third Bank to provide these 529 plan investments. Similarly, CollegeAdvantage has partnered with BlackRock to offer an Advisor Plan.

    Additionally, Ohio 529 Plan offers calculators and tools to build a 529 plan that best fits the account owner’s needs. The college savings planner can assess the projected college costs and provide an estimated monthly saving amount to be placed in a 529 plan to reach a saving goal. The cost of waiting tool can show approximately how much more money will need to be set aside if saving for college is postponed. Again, the earlier a 529 plan is started, the sooner the account can grow by taking advantage of compound interest. The tax benefit tool illustrates the long-term advantages of tax-free growth in a 529 plan compared to a taxable savings account. CollegeAdvantage also provides 529 account strategies by a beneficiary’s life stage: from baby to toddler, which is a fantastic time to start saving for future college expenses; kindergarten through elementary school, when disappearing expenses like day care costs can be shifted to fund the 529 account; middle school and high school, when college savings may need to be accelerated; and even college, where tax-free earnings, tax-free withdrawals, and the state tax deduction for Ohioans can still build up the 529 account.

    Consider opening an Ohio 529 plan to save for future college costs. Remember, 529 accounts are an excellent alternative to student loan debt. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

    * The performance data shown represents past performance, which is not a guarantee of future results.

  • Savings Story: The Family That Saves Together

    by User Not Found | Mar 27, 2017

    CollegeAdvantage, founded in 1989, has been around long enough that children whose parents saved for them, now have CollegeAdvantage accounts for their own children. The Gores are one such family of generational college savers.

    Meet John and Judy Gore, an Ohio couple who saved for their daughters’ college educations with CollegeAdvantage. Now their daughters, Johnel and Janée, have each married and begun their own families. Following in the family tradition, they are actively saving for their children’s educations with CollegeAdvantage. The Gores truly are the family that saves together. Hear their savings story in their own words.

    This Saving Story and video was first published on Feb. 27, 2014.
  • Fund Your 529 Account With Your Tax Refund

    by Amy Lyle | Mar 24, 2017

    Your tax refund makes a great CollegeAdvantage 529 fund. It’s also a great and easy saving strategy. The average 2015 federal tax refund for Ohioans was $2,466. By adding $2,500 a year to a 529 plan, you could cover as much as 40% of college at an Ohio public university, based on 18 years at 6% growth.

    529 ​Plan Tools

    Would you like to see the math behind this number? Ohio’s 529 Savings Program offers a college savings planner to calculate how much you can save by contributing your tax refund every year. Additionally, you can use the tool to see what the estimated 529 account total could be if you deposited monthly automatic contributions, as well as increased the dollar amount or the frequency of 529 plan contributions. Every amount contributed, whether big or small, can help you reach your savings goal.

    Keep in mind, if you deposit your tax refund or other contributions into your CollegeAdvantage ​529 plan, there is a tax advantage for Ohio residents. In addition to tax-free earnings and tax-free withdrawals when used to pay qualified higher education expenses, 529 contributions of up to $2000, per beneficiary, per year, can be deducted from your state of Ohio taxable income. Deductions for contributions over $2,000 can be carried forward to future tax years until fully deducted.

    Review Your 529 Account During Tax Time

    The tax season is also an excellent time to assess your progress on your college savings goals, or if you haven’t yet, set your college savings goals! Ohio 529 Plan offers tools to help you build a 529 plan that best fits your family’s needs. You can set or rework your college savings goal, compare long-term tax benefits, or even see the cost of waiting to save. Also, take the opportunity to review your child’s time horizon to college. If your child just started kindergarten, you have more time to save even more as well as benefit from the power of compound interest. If your child is in middle or high school, you may want to accelerate your savings. Even if your child is in college already, you can still save and take advantage of tax-free earnings (which helps you save even more) and you can maximize the Ohio tax deduction, too.

    529 plans are a great alternative to student loan debt. If you haven’t started a CollegeAdvantage account, you can open an account today! If you already have an account and would like to make some changes, log in to perform account maintenance, or increase automatic deposits. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

  • Tax Time Is Great Time To Review 529 Plans

    by Amy Lyle | Mar 22, 2017

    After submitting all the paperwork for your federal and state income taxes, take a moment to look back at the itemized deductions you were able to take. Was one for contributions made to a 529 plan? If so, then the tax season is a great time to check on your progress on reaching your college savings goals, determine if you need to adjust your 529 investment options, or increase yearly contributions to take full advantage of all the Ohio 529 tax benefits.

    Make Any 529 Account Adjustments

    CollegeAdvantage offers tools and calculators to help you build a 529 savings plan that best fits your family’s needs. You can set or rework your college savings goal, compare long-term tax benefits, or even see the cost of waiting to save. Additionally, you can use the tools to see what the estimated 529 account total could be if you deposited monthly automatic deposits, increased the dollar amount or the frequency of 529 plan contributions. You can time your college savings plan contributions to align with paydays or set up a monthly contribution schedule. Just log in to your Ohio 529 account and select “Automatic Investments” from the Asset Management menu to adjust the amount or frequency of your contributions. Every amount deposited into a 529 account, whether big or small, can help you reach your savings goal.

    Also, take the opportunity to review your child’s time horizon to college and determine if some modifications need to be made to the 529 college savings plan. If your child just started kindergarten, you have more time to save even more as well as benefit from the power of compound interest. If your child is in middle or high school, you may want to accelerate your savings. Even if your child is in college already, you can still save and take advantage of tax-free earnings, tax-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses, and the state of Ohio income tax deduction for 529 plan contributions, which is available to residents of Ohio only.

    If you’re getting an income tax refund, consider placing it into your CollegeAdvantage college savings plan. The average 2015 federal tax refund for Ohioans was $2,466. By adding $2,500 a year to a 529 plan, you could cover as much as 40% of college at an Ohio public university, based on 18 years at 6% growth. Do you want to check the math behind this number? Ohio 529 Savings Program offers a tool to calculate how much you can save by contributing your tax refund every year.

    If you already have an account and would like to make some changes, log in to perform account maintenance, or increase automatic deposits.

    If You Didn’t Take Any 529 Plan Deductions

    If you weren’t able to take a state income tax deduction for 529 plan contributions because you haven’t opened an account, then don’t wait any longer! Take advantage of all the tax benefits in a 529 college savings plan and open an account today! 529 plans are a great alternative to student loan debt.

    Saving for college is a forward-looking action plan. No matter the age of a child, it is never too early and it is never too late to start saving for them. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

  • We Did What Our Parents Did For Us

    by User Not Found | Mar 20, 2017

    In 2015, CollegeAdvantage celebrated its 25th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, many longtime account owners shared their Saving Stories and how using CollegeAdvantage helped them achieve their goals. We are fortunate to have these encouraging stories of how families prioritized their children’s higher education and are sharing them again. 

    My wife, Denise, and I had tremendous support from our parents which allowed us to attend college and law school, graduating from both with almost no debt. We married immediately after we passed the Ohio Bar Exam in 1981 and within 4 ½ years were proud parents of three beautiful children; four years later came another one.  We never questioned whether or not our children would go to college. We were both successful in our careers. We knew we would need to save for college but never, ever imagined how expensive college would ultimately be.

    When we first learned of the CollegeAdvantage program, we immediately enrolled each of our children (well, the youngest might have had to wait until he was born!) and then we invested aggressively. We lived well but within our means. We did not drive expensive cars and buy a lot of luxury items. But we did funnel any extra money we had into the CollegeAdvantage accounts. When grandparents gave the kids money for their birthdays, we invested that, too, noting that the house was already overwhelmed with toys. Ultimately, we were able to have enough for four years of in-state college tuition and fees saved for each of our kids. This created a tremendous amount of peace of mind for Denise and me, as we knew that whatever happened to us or to our careers, the kids would have their educations.

    In the end, our oldest graduated from the University of Notre Dame, and the other three graduated from my alma mater, Bucknell University. Our oldest went on to graduate from the University of Toledo College of Law and our other daughter is currently in a master’s program in Educational Administration at the University of Dayton. We are proud of our children and thankful that we were able to give them the same educational opportunities that we had been given.

    The CollegeAdvantage funds did not cover everything, and I have to tell you that I was a little stressed the year that we had three kids in college at the same time, but we could never have accomplished this without CollegeAdvantage. So, it is my pleasure to send this email sharing our appreciation for the program.

    And there is a very happy final chapter to our story. Our oldest and her husband have blessed us with two beautiful granddaughters. Although they live in Atlanta, they were both enrolled in CollegeAdvantage as soon as they were born and they will share the benefits of this program!

    Stuart Cubbon

    Toledo, Ohio

    This Saving Story was originally published on April 22, 2015.
  • Save Your Green In Ohio’s 529 Plan

    by Amy Lyle | Mar 17, 2017

    If you’re wearing green to celebrate today, how about saving some green in an Ohio 529 plan?

    What is a 529?

    A 529 account is an excellent alternative to student loan debt. Saving for college now, while potentially challenging initially to include in a budget, is far cheaper than paying off students loans later in life.

    Why CollegeAdvantage 529?

    CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, helps families across the nation save money for their children’s future college costs in a tax-advantaged manner. What are the benefits? First, all contributions and earnings grow tax-free in a 529 plan. Second, when a 529 account withdrawal is requested to cover qualified higher education expenses, the amount taken out will be tax-free. Third, a CollegeAdvantage account owner who is an Ohio resident can deduct 529 contributions from their Ohio taxable income, up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap. The taxpayer can continue to subtract $2,000 per year from their Ohio taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.

    There are steps to take once a 529 account has been open that can simplify setting aside college savings. A straightforward way to save is to set up automatic deposits to be placed in an Ohio 529 College Savings Account and then forget about it. Many account owners find it’s easiest to have contributions automatically transferred to the 529 account before the funds are unintentionally used for other expenses. Electronically transferred 529 contributions can be scheduled to match paycheck deposits or to another monthly contribution schedule.

    Some employers also offer payroll deduction, where a portion of a paycheck can be deposited directly into a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 account. Direct deposit of payroll contributions makes it easy to save regularly to meet college-saving goals. The 529 account owner can login to their account and establish payroll deduction through direct deposit or complete and mail a payroll deduction form. A side note: A FifthThird Certificate of Deposit (CD), which requires a $500 minimum contribution to open, is not available for purchase through automatic recurring contributions or payroll deduction.

    Additionally, another way to boost a 529 college savings plan is to contribute federal and state tax returns, pay raises, or bonuses to the 529 account. The average tax return is $2,466. Adding $2,500 a year to a 529 plan could cover as much as 40% of college at an Ohio public university, based on 18 years at 6% growth. Would you like to see the math behind this number? Ohio’s 529 Savings Program offers a college savings planner to calculate how much you can save by contributing your tax refund every year. Additionally, you can use the tool to see what the estimated 529 account total could be if you deposited monthly automatic contributions, as well as increased the dollar amount or the frequency of 529 contributions. Ohio 529 Plan also has additional tools to craft the college savings plan that’s a best fit for your family.

    CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. By saving regularly through automatic contributions or payroll deduction, even small amounts add up to big savings over time. Every amount contributed to a 529 will grow tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free. For Ohio taxpayers, CollegeAdvantage 529 plan contributions can be deducted from their state taxable income, up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary. Keep moving forward to reach your college savings goal for your child.

    Ready to start with Ohio’s 529 Savings Program? It’s easy to open an account here. Already have an account and want to make some changes? Log in to a 529 account to update information, perform account maintenance, or increase automatic deposits or payroll deduction contribution amount.

  • Fact: 529 Plans Cover Required College Costs

    by Amy Lyle | Mar 15, 2017

    All parents have big dreams for their children. Most of those plans include a college education. Forward-thinking parents look at their child’s future college costs and prepare for it by contributing to 529 college savings plan. 529 accounts are an excellent alternative to student loan debt.

    Ohio 529 Savings Program is a great, tax-advantaged plan to save for those future college expenses. First, earnings are tax-free. Second, residents of Ohio will receive a deduction on their state tax income for their contributions to CollegeAdvantage 529 plans. Third, funds withdrawn from a 529 account to cover qualified higher education expenses are not taxed at the federal or state level. What are the 529-qualified higher education expensescosts ? They are the required costs to attend a federally accredited educational institute to earn a two-year, four-year, graduate or professional degree.

    529 plan qualified higher education expenses

    • tuition;
    • room and board during any academic period in which the 529 beneficiary is enrolled for at least half of the full-time academic workload according to the eligible education institution;
    • mandatory fees;
    • computer equipment and related technology as well as internet services;
    • books, supplies and equipment related to enrollment and class schedule; and
    • certain expenses for a special-needs student.

    Room and board costs can also include rent for off-campus residency and groceries (non-taxable items), provided these costs are equal or less than the same room and board allowances from the accredited education institution.

    What is needed for an expense to be considered qualified? If the cost is required for enrollment or attendance at a post-secondary educational institute, then it will mostly like be considered a qualified higher education expense. Tuition is a mandatory expense. Books, fees and supplies which are required for classes are considered necessary costs. Room and board — whether the 529 college savings account beneficiary is living on or off campus — is a qualified expense.

    What are some of the costs which aren’t considered qualified higher education expenses? Here are a few:

    Non-qualified higher education expenses

    • transportation costs to and from the school;
    • insurance;
    • fees and equipment which are not required for enrollment,;
    • parking tickets;
    • restaurants and taxable food items;
    • library fines; and
    • payment for student loans

    To pay for these 529-qualified costs, there are different manners to make a withdrawal from a college savings plan. The quickest and easiest will be online withdrawal request from a 529 plan to a bank account to pay to the higher learning institution with an electronic transfer from the bank account. Or the account owner can pay with a paper check once the 529 withdrawal has been deposited in their bank account. Additionally, the account owner can have the 529 plan provider issue a paper check directly to the post-secondary education institution. To learn more about making a withdrawal from a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan account, please read this article. Ohio’s 529 Saving Program also has a blog which offers some tips on how to be reimbursed from a 529 account for other qualified higher education expenses. For guidance on how to avoid mistakes when making a 529 withdrawal, review this article.

    As a general rule, account owners should take the 529 withdrawal within the same calendar year that the 529-qualified higher education expense has occurred. For tax purposes, the burden of proof for qualified expenses and withdrawals to pay them is on the account owner. Please retain all documentation of the qualified higher education expenses and the subsequent reimbursement or payment from a 529 plan.

    Saving in a 529 plan is a tax-advantaged manner to cover required college costs. Haven’t started a college savings account? Then visit CollegeAdvantage.com to learn more about the many benefits of 529 plans. Ready to open a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Savings Plan Account? Then go here to begin the process. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

  • Unexpectedly A Single Mom

    by User Not Found | Mar 13, 2017

    In 2015, CollegeAdvantage celebrated its 25th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, many longtime account owners shared their Saving Stories and how using CollegeAdvantage helped them achieve their goals. We are fortunate to have these encouraging stories of how families prioritized their children’s higher education and are sharing them again. 

    In 1979, my husband died, leaving me with a three month old. College expenses were not on my mind then, but I did receive social security payments for our daughter, which I was able to save since I was working. When the CollegeAdvantage program became available, I took those savings and put them in CollegeAdvantage, saving enough for four years of college. I am a teacher and investing in education is a priority. Investing in my home state was also a plus because of the state tax benefits.

    My daughter lived on campus and graduated with a BS from The Ohio State University. Her tuition, room and board were all paid from her CollegeAdvantage account. There was even a bit left to help with her master's degree from The McGregor School at Antioch. 

    My daughter is now married and they have two daughters. She has been teaching first grade for eleven years. We count the college savings plan as a blessing in our lives. We see other family members still carrying large debt from college loans, and we know how difficult that can be.

    Starting to save when the children are young is the way to go. We are now looking at the 529 plan for our granddaughters and saving for their future college expenses.

    Sandra Burkeen

    Columbus, Ohio

    This Saving Story originally posted April 10, 2015.
  • CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan Recognized As A Top 529 Plan

    by Amy Lyle | Mar 08, 2017

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (​​Oct. ​31, 201​6) – In a report recently released by Morningstar, Inc. the leading provider of independent investment research of 529 college savings plans, Ohio’s CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan received a “Silver” rating. Morningstar has praised CollegeAdvantage for its low fees and an impressive investment lineup, noting that Ohio’s CollegeAdvantage direct-sold plan is a top choice for Ohioans as well as non-Ohioans.

    “We believe we have the best 529 college savings options in the nation right here in Ohio”, said CollegeAdvantage Executive Director Tim Gorrell, ”but this rating, from a highly regarded national agency, validates our claim and we hope will encourage more people to trust us with their college savings investments both in Ohio and across the nation.”

    This is an annual report by Morningstar which ranks 529 plans, by a five pillar system. The five pillars represent: process, performance, people, parents, and price. The five pillar system is similar to how Morningstar ranks mutual funds. Morningstar’s ranking system groups 529 plans as “Gold”, “Silver”, “Bronze”, Neutral or Negative. The “Gold”, “Silver”, and “Bronze” ratings are all positive ratings. Morningstar’s rating system makes it easier to understand how 529 plans across the country compare and perform to their peer plans. The “neutral” rating indicates room for improvement and a “negative” rating indicates a plan is clearly inferior to other 529 plans across the country.

    Morningstar reviewed a total of 63 college savings plans this year, with only 13 plans considered to be among the top plans in the country. The “Silver” rating is a very positive rating given by Morningstar and identifies CollegeAdvantage to be a “best-in-class” option for saving. Plans that received “Gold”, “Silver”, or “Bronze” rating are plans that follow the industry’s best practices. According to Morningstar they offer strong underlying investments, have a good selection of investment managers, well-researched asset allocations, low fees, and strong oversight from the state and program managers.


    About the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority/CollegeAdvantage: CollegeAdvantage is Ohio’s 529 college savings program, offered and administered by the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, a state agency under the Office of the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Ohio is the fifth largest state sponsor of 529 plans in the country. CollegeAdvantage is offered as the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Savings Plan and the CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Saving Plan which is offered and marketed through BlackRock and sold through professional financial advisors. The CollegeAdvantage program, which offers families a tax-advantaged way to save for college, has nearly $9.7 billion in assets under management and over 635,000 total accounts as of September 30, 2016. To learn more, visit www.collegeadvantage.com.

  • Our Story Isn’t Over Yet!

    by User Not Found | Mar 06, 2017

    In 2015, CollegeAdvantage celebrated its 25th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, many longtime account owners shared their Saving Stories and how using CollegeAdvantage helped them achieve their goals. We are fortunate to have these encouraging stories of how families prioritized their children’s higher education and are sharing them again. 

    My ongoing relationship with CollegeAdvantage began 25 years ago with the death of my beloved grandmother. When she passed at the age of 90, I was a young mother of two preschoolers teaching full time in Ohio's public schools and struggling to fit my own graduate school courses into my already overflowing life. I thought there might be just a small inheritance, knowing how hard she had struggled through the Depression, and had envisioned possibly being able to purchase and plant a commemorative tree. Much to my surprise she left me $2,000!

    Always the person looking for a bargain; I had been paying close attention to the news about Ohio's new plan to help parents pay for college. And though there were sooooo many things I would have liked to buy with that "found" money, I knew that the best way to honor my grandmother's memory was (at this moment tears are literally streaming down my face reliving those feelings) was to invest in her great-grandchildren's future!

    Money was always tight as I was raising my children and many times I was tempted, but I never touched that money. Ever. And it grew.

    By the time my eldest had reached college age, her portion of that initial helped her to attend John Carroll University. But our story wasn't over yet. My daughter graduated from John Carroll University with a B.S. in Chemistry. Then she went on to earn another B.S. in Nursing at Ursuline College and is now pursuing a Masters in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Meanwhile CollegeAdvantage has been helping to finance her dreams every step of the way.

    While her sister did not make the same use of her educational opportunities, I was able to transfer her CollegeAdvantage fund to her sister's account to continue to finance her education without penalty (yet another “advantage” of CollegeAdvantage)! And our story is not over yet!

    I now have two grandchildren almost the same age as my daughters were when I started saving for them with CollegeAdvantage. For each of their first birthdays, I created accounts in their names with a substantial investment to each. As with the now two previous generations, accumulating a large initial investment was a struggle, but if there is ONE thing this family has always believed in it is education!

    With each grandchild, I worked a second part-time job for an entire year to come up with that money to start each account, and I have every intention of doing it again for every grandchild I am blessed with. I also now contribute monthly to those two accounts while still continuing to pay into my daughter's account as she pursues her Masters in Nursing. And there is still one more piece to this story!

    Every baby shower, birth announcement, and niece or nephew's birthday is celebrated with a contribution to CollegeAdvantage in their name. In the past year alone, we have delivered three CollegeAdvantage introductory packets to new parents with accompanying checks made out to the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. We then explained the program to each of them and the audience of family and friends at their parties. Clothes and toys will be forgotten in a week; helping to pay for college will hopefully be remembered for a lifetime! And, the story continues... 

    Denise Monsman

    Mantua, Ohio

    This Saving Story was originally published April ​30, 2015.
  • Gimme 5! Steps To Boost Your 529 Savings

    by Amy Lyle | Mar 03, 2017

    Everyone’s budget is tight. Setting aside money for a goal, even if it’s your child’s higher education, can be a challenge. In conjunction with America Saves Week, CollegeAdvantage highlights five simple ways to automate your savings to help achieve your financial objectives.

    1. Automate Contributions

    CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan account owners tell us the easiest way to save is to automatically contribute money before you have a chance to spend it elsewhere. Therefore, to grow your 529 Plan effortlessly, sign up for Automatic Investment Plan (AIP).

    With AIP, you can set up recurring contributions to be made directly from your bank account. You can align your automated 529 Plan deposits with your paydays or set a monthly contribution schedule. Many account owners use AIP to contribute regularly to their children’s CollegeAdvantage accounts, no matter the amount. Even if you’re putting away the $25 minimum per investment option, it can add up! You can also ask if your employer supports payroll deduction for CollegeAdvantage.

    2. Build Your Savings With Tax Refunds Or Disappearing Expenses

    A federal or state tax refund can be a budgetary windfall. The average refund from a 2014 federal tax return was $2,785. Consider how much closer your college savings goal would be if you contributed some or all of your refund to your child’s CollegeAdvantage 529 account. Remember, the $2,000 Ohio income tax deduction isn’t a cap on annual contributions. Deductions for contributions over $2,000 can be carried forward to future tax years until fully deducted.

    Another way to automate your savings is to add the money from disappearing expenses to your child’s 529 Plan. Disappearing expenses are those costs in your budget for a limited time span. For instance, daycare is a large disappearing expense for families. Once your child starts kindergarten, consider rolling over your former daycare costs into regular contributions to your CollegeAdvantage 529 account. You won’t miss it and you are continuing to support your child’s educational needs. Other disappearing expenses include paying off a car or your own student loans.

    Many account owners will also contribute a portion of an annual raise or bonus toward a CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan.

    3. Set Goals And Watch The Progress

    CollegeAdvantage offers many useful tools to help set your savings goal. Need help in determining how much to put aside each month? With our College Savings Planner, you can receive personalized saving information. After inputting your college funding goals and examining your total projected costs, you will receive an estimated monthly amount needed to meet your savings objective.

    Already putting money aside in an Ohio 529 Plan? You can track your investment performance, see if you need to change your saving strategy as your child grows, or perform regular maintenance on your 529 account.

    4. Let Others Help You Save Through Ugift

    Family and friends want to give meaningful gifts for the milestones in your child’s life. You can ask them to consider contributing to your child’s 529 Plan in lieu of gifts for baby showers, birthdays, holidays, graduations, and many other special occasions. Ugift® makes it simple for anyone to contribute to a CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan account; you just give your unique Ugift code to family and friends. The gift giver can make one-time or recurring electronic contributions at any time. If the gift giver is an Ohio taxpayer, they can deduct their own contributions from their Ohio taxable income. Their gift contribution needs to be made payable directly to the account, not to the child.

    5. Save While Shopping With Upromise

    With no cost to join, you can save even more money for college through Upromise. Connected with hundreds of America’s leading companies, your Upromise membership can earn you cash back as you shop online, dine out, fill your gas tank, buy groceries using eCoupons, book hotels, and more. By linking your Upromise account to your CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan, your earnings can be automatically transferred on a periodic basis, subject to a $25 minimum. Upromise is an optional service available to CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan account owners.

    These are five simple steps to help you reach your college savings goal. If you would like to read how others saved for their children’s college expenses, learn more at our blog. Ready to set up a highly rated Direct Plan account with CollegeAdvantage? Then go here.

  • Request For Proposal (RFP) For Investment Consulting Services

    by Amy Lyle | Mar 01, 2017

    Ohio Tuition Trust Authority (OTTA), Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, is issuing a Request For Proposal (RFP) for investment consulting services for the CollegeAdvantage Direct and Advisor 529 Plans. If you are interested, please download the pdf below. RFP responses are due by Friday, March 31, 2017.

    Investment Consulting Services: The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority (OTTA) is looking for nationally recognized investment consulting providers interested in partnering with OTTA to provide investment consulting services to CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 College Savings Program. The incumbent(s) will be invited to participate. Responses are due by ​Friday, ​March ​31, 2017.

    PDF Image for DownloadDownload RFP for Investment Consulting

  • Don’t Miss These Five Opportunities For Automatic Savings

    by Amy Lyle | Feb 28, 2017

    I​n support of America Saves Week, CollegeAdvantage welcomes the opportunity to run the following guest blog from JanetAlvarez ​from Wise Bread.

    2017 ASW logo-Reversed-VerticalMost of us understand that saving regularly is one of the simplest ways to reach our financial goals, but we don’t all take advantage of easy ways to automate our savings. As part of America Saves Week, we’ve devised a list of five automatic savings opportunities that are often overlooked. These go a step beyond mere automatic transfers from checking to savings. They’re easy, straight-forward ways to save money automatically that most of us don’t take advantage of yet, and they increase your chances of reaching your goals even faster.

    1.  Direct Deposit Your Tax Refund Into Savings
    According to the IRS, the average American’s tax refund now stands at over $3,100. Don’t let that windfall slip through your fingers. Deposit all or part of it into your savings account, instead, and watch your money grow. Plus, the IRS allows direct deposits into one or more accounts, such as a checking and savings account, which means you can choose to spend a portion and save the rest. (I’d recommend saving all you can.) Conveniently, you can also direct deposit all or part of your refund into your Individual Retirement Account (IRA), or use it to purchase up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I Savings Bonds. You can split your refund using tax preparation software, or Form 8888, if you use paper filing.

    2. Don’t Forget Bonuses or Commissions
    Do you get quarterly or yearly bonuses? Are commissions a part of your earnings? Then don’t forget to direct deposit all or part of these funds into your savings. Consult with your employer about direct depositing the funds into your savings account, or set up automatic transfers from your checking to savings accounts when you expect the funds.

    Another alternative? Increase the contributions on your employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), during those times you receive extra earnings. It’ll help you max out your contributions faster and earn any applicable company match to boost your savings even further. Consult with your HR representative or your company’s online retirement plan portal to manage your contributions.

    3. Save Your Spare Change
    Some banks and credit unions offer programs which automatically round up to the next dollar on any purchases you make, and transfer the spare change from your checking to savings account. These programs are free, and provide a fool-proof way to jumpstart your savings and always pay yourself first. You probably won’t miss the spare change in your checking account, but your savings will sure be glad for the extra boost. Even small amounts saved over time add up.

    4. Credit Card Rewards Can Boost Savings, Too
    Many popular credit cards rewards programs offer several rewards options, ranging from airline miles or hotel points to cash back. Sadly, many credit card rewards perks often go unused, making them less than rewarding. But if you choose to receive rewards in the form of cash back, instead, many cards will deposit the rewards sum directly into an account of your choice. If you’re limited to receiving the funds into checking, you can always transfer the funds to savings. Either way, you’re boosting your savings painlessly. Don’t forget to pay off the balance on your card at the end of every month to avoid costly interest fees, otherwise you’ll spend more on interest than you’ll receive in rewards.

    5. Set Your Savings Rate Higher
    So, you think you’re a savings pro now that you’ve got regular transfers or direct deposits into your savings account? Well, you can go a step further still by periodically increasing your savings rate, whether to your employer-sponsored retirement plan or your savings account. Many 401(k) plans allow users to opt-in to periodic increases in their savings rates, such as a 1 percent increase in their contributions per year. If you prefer to contribute to a savings account or other savings vehicle, consider increasing your contributions regularly, such as every time you get a raise.

    Having the foresight to automate your savings can help you beat temptation and stay ahead financially. And the techniques described above are easy ways to take your savings to the next level.

    Janet Alvarez is the ​executive ​editor for Wise Bread and a contributor to TheStreet.com and U.S. News & World Report.

    America Saves Week
     is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the ​week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

  • Simple Steps To Save Successfully During America Saves Week 2017

    by Amy Lyle | Feb 27, 2017

    In support of America Saves Week, CollegeAdvantage welcomes the opportunity to run the following guest blog from Tammy G​. Bruzon ​from America Saves.

    2017 ASW logo-Reversed-VerticalAmerica Saves Week (Feb​. 27 – March 4, 2017) is an annual opportunity for individuals to assess their savings and take financial action. Each year, we encourage savers – or potential savers – just like you to set a goal, make a plan, and save automatically.

    This America Saves Week, try these five simple steps to help yourself save automatically – and successfully:

    1. Assess Your Savings
    Like your health, you should assess your savings annually to make sure your savings priorities are on the right track. Complete this simple 12-question assessment to find out your current standing and help you plan for the future.

    2. Evaluate your Savings Preparedness
    Check off your savings accomplishments on the Saver Checklist to further evaluate where your savings habits need strengthening for your future goals.

    3. Take the America Saves Pledge
    Those with a savings plan are two times as likely to save for emergencies and retirement than those without one. Join more than 500,000 American Savers who have already committed to save. When you take the pledge, you can choose to receive text message tips and reminders to help you save towards your goals.

    4. Share Your Savings Goal
    Take part in the 2017 #ImSavingFor photo contest. Share a selfie or video that shows what you’re saving for on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Then check americasaves.org to learn more about contest entry details and prizes. Savings never looked so good.

    5. Make Your Savings Social
    Are you on Twitter or Facebook? Join America Saves and the American Savings Education Council in encouraging your friends, family, and colleagues to save this week. Better yet, join one of the many Twitter chats that America Saves will be a part of this week to get real-time savings tips and advice.

    America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the ​week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

  • Fact: You Can Use CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan Most Everywhere

    by Amy Lyle | Feb 23, 2017

    One of the most frequently asked questions CollegeAdvantage hears is, “If I use Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, does my child have to attend an Ohio college?”

    Fact_Post5USeAnywhere
    Here’s the truth: You can use a CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan at any school nationwide (and even some overseas) that accepts federal financial aid. If the post-secondary school has a Federal School Code on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), then the 529 plan can be used there to cover qualified higher education expenses. You are not locked in to using the money you saved in an Ohio 529 account only at an accredited post-secondary program in Ohio. A CollegeAdvantage 529 plan can be used for a two-year, four-year, graduate or professional degree, or any other post-secondary credential across the nation. Basically, you can use the 529 account almost anywhere you’re comfortable sending both your student and your money.  

    For whatever reason, the “for-use-only-in-your-home state” myth still lingers for these college savings plans. Just remember, you can use your CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan at any federally accredited educational institution nationwide and ​abroad.

    While 75% of all Direct Plan accounts are owned by Ohio residents, families nationwide choose CollegeAdvantage for the plan’s investment options, investment performance, and low fees. Morningstar has ranked Ohio’s Direct 529 Savings Program as one of the top 13 college saving 529 plans in the U.S. Also, CollegeAdvantage continues to be one of only four 529 plans nationwide to receive the 5-Cap Rating for both in-state and out-of-state residents from Savingforcollege.com.

    For Ohio taxpayers, there is an additional tax benefit for owning a CollegeAdvantage 529: A state of Ohio $2,000 income tax deduction for contributions to CollegeAdvantage accounts. Tax-free earnings, tax-free withdrawals and the state of Ohio tax deduction are great reasons for Ohioans to open a CollegeAdvantage 529 account.

    The truth is that CollegeAdvantage can be used at any 529-eligible college or university in the nation! As always, CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

  • College Advantage Partners With America Saves

    by Amy Lyle | Feb 21, 2017

    CollegeAdvantage is pleased to participate in America Save Week, which will run Monday, Feb. 27 - Saturday, March 4. America Saves is an organization, managed by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which is dedicated to helping individuals save money, reduce household debt, and build wealth. In 2007, America Saves Week was established to encourage households and individuals to develop good saving habits.

    To do so, America Saves Week advocates to first set a savings goal, then create a plan to reach the goal. The plan should include this year’s theme, saving automatically. To promote this, America Saves Week offers an online pledge to save money for a variety of goals — including education — and guides the participant to design a saving strategy to reach that goal. America Saves Week will send tips, reminders, and encouragements to keep the pledge-taker focused on attaining the saving goal. In a recent survey, many past participants said that taking the pledge was the needed push to start and/or increase their savings.

    CollegeAdvantage stands in complete agreement with America Saves in encouraging people to save as well as to save automatically, especially for their children’s post-secondary educations.

    Ohio’s 529 Savings Program helps families across the nation to save for their children’s future college costs in a tax-advantaged manner. First, all contributions and earnings will grow tax free in a 529 plan. Second, a 529 account withdrawal will be tax free when used to pay for 529 qualified higher education expenses. Third, if an Ohio resident is the CollegeAdvantage account owner, then their 529 contributions can be deducted from their state taxable income, up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap. The Ohio resident can subtract $2,000 per year from their Ohio taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.

    Scheduling automatic deposits to be placed in an Ohio 529 College Savings Account is the easiest way to save before the funds are unintentionally used for other expenses. As America Saves Week learned, “the most effective way to save money is automatically.” That’s why it’s this year’s theme: Saving automatically is a simple yet powerful tool. With CollegeAdvantage, 529 account contributions can be scheduled to match paycheck deposits or monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annual contribution schedule.

    America Saves Weeks also reminds that “saving a portion of your tax return can be a big step toward meeting your saving goals.” A tax refund also makes a great CollegeAdvantage 529 contribution. It’s an easy saving strategy. The average 2015 federal tax refund was $2,466. By adding $2,500 a year to a 529 plan, the account could cover as much as 40% of college at an Ohio public university, based on 18 years at 6% growth.

    CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. By saving regularly through automatic contributions, even small amounts add up to big savings over time. Also, a 529 account is an excellent alternative to student loan debt. Saving for college now is far cheaper than paying off students loans later.

    Ready to start with Ohio’s 529 Savings Program? It’s easy to open an account here. Already have an account and want to make some adjustments? Log in to a 529 account to update information, perform account maintenance, or increase the frequency or the amount of automatic deposits.

  • Life Stories Just Beginning

    by User Not Found | Feb 14, 2017

    In 2015, CollegeAdvantage celebrated its 25th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, many longtime account owners shared their Saving Stories and how using CollegeAdvantage helped them achieve their goals. We are fortunate to have these encouraging stories of how families prioritized their children’s higher education and are sharing them again. 

    Our story begins with the ethic that it’s the parents’ duty to provide opportunities for their children. For my wife and me, each of our mother and father did the best they could to help provide each of us an opportunity to attend college. We wanted to do the same for our children. We expect our children will do the same for theirs.

    The very week in 1985 that our daughter was born, we began putting money aside for college. When our son was born three years later, we repeated the same strategy. Every single month, we allocated a portion of our income to their college fund. In the early years, our contribution was small; but in time, as we earned more we set aside more. Our goal was to have enough in their college fund by the time they were eighteen to allow them to choose just about any school across the country. When we learned of Ohio’s new program for college, we thought this would be a smart way to supplement our savings. My wife and I had both seen how the cost of college tuition had skyrocketed in just the few years since we graduated. The program made sense as a way to help assure there would be enough funds on hand when the time came for our children to begin their advanced education. In later years, we also took advantage of the various stock market and fixed income investment options the program offered.

    Our daughter attended the University of Mary Washington in Virginia majoring in Geography. She has pursued a career as a world traveler and sailor. Immediately after graduating college, she joined Sea/mester, a study abroad program for college students aboard a 112’ sailboat. As a crew member for five years, she circumnavigated the world, visited scores of foreign countries, was a mentor and teacher, and led students on excursions in Africa, Asia and South America. She grew up fast. During that time, she also earned a large vessel Captain’s license. She continues to sail and is currently employed aboard a privately-owned sailing yacht in the Mediterranean Sea. I like to think that some of my tales as a merchant seaman hauling coal and iron ore aboard the lake freighters were of some inspiration for her to seek a life of adventure on the sea.

    Our son attended Ohio State University with a degree in Business. Upon graduation he joined an international bank as an analyst and continued with them for two years before leaving to begin his MBA studies at Georgetown in Washington, DC. Following a successful internship in Houston this past summer in the oil and gas investment banking division of another international bank, he was offered a full-time job. Following graduation in May, he will become part of the company’s Defense, Aerospace, Technology & Services investment banking team in Charlotte, NC. Like our daughter, he also has the bug for traveling the world.

    That’s pretty much the story so far. These two kids have gone way beyond anything Bonnie or I could have imagined for them. As I am sure you know, it takes so many ingredients to succeed in life. And along the way there are so many bumps and bruises. I know the story for each of them has only just begun.

    CollegeAdvantage was a part of it.

    Craig Shopneck

    Bay Village, Ohio

    This Saving Story was originally published April 12, 2015.
  • Honoring A Loved One

    by User Not Found | Feb 07, 2017

    In 2015, CollegeAdvantage celebrated its 25th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, many longtime account owners shared their Saving Stories and how using CollegeAdvantage helped them achieve their goals. We are fortunate to have these encouraging stories of how families prioritized their children’s higher education and are sharing them again. 

    When the CollegeAdvantage program first started, we began saving to help defray the future costs of college for our daughters. We were investing a little at a time toward our goal.

    When a dear friend of ours passed away, she kindly had named us in her will and estate planning. She was always very fond of our children, and our girls were fond of her, too. She was like a grandmother to them. She was aware of our plans to provide our children with a ways and means of furthering their education after high school. So, we thought it would be a great way to honor her legacy by using the money toward the girls’ educations by saving it in their CollegeAdvantage accounts. I know she would be very happy and proud that they both benefited in this way from her thoughtfulness.

    Our oldest daughter now has a Master’s degree in special education and is presently teaching. Our youngest has an Associate's degree in business and accounting, and is currently working in a distribution center (hoping for a better job in future).

    Randall and Debra Carr

    Somerset, Ohio

    This S​aving Story originally was published April 19, 2015.
  • Huddle Homework Folder Winners Announced

    by Amy Lyle | Feb 03, 2017

    CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, encourages families to start saving for their children’s future college costs while the children are still young. By planning ahead for higher education expenses, you can take full advantage of long-term savings, tax benefits, and the power of compound earnings with a 529 plan. The sooner you start saving, the longer you have to reach your college-savings goals.

    To raise awareness of the importance of college savings, CollegeAdvantage teamed with the Ohio Department of Education, OhioMeansJobs.com and Huddle to provide homework folders to elementary schools across the State of Ohio for the 2016-2017 school year. As part of this initiative, CollegeAdvantage also offered a giveaway to provide $529 college savings awards to ten lucky people! The giveaway, which ran until Dec. 31, 2016, was open to account owners and non-account owners alike.

    Here’s the list of the 10 participants randomly selected*:

    1. Valerie Lemmie Thomas of Dayton, Ohio
    2. Shannon Amos of Canal Winchester, Ohio
    3. Venkat Badri of Powell, Ohio
    4. Greg Hoge of Lewis Center, Ohio
    5. Trisha Pollard of Canton, Ohio
    6. Erin West of Mogadore, Ohio
    7. Keri Aylor of Delaware, Ohio
    8. Rajesh Chandramohan of Lewis Center, Ohio
    9. Sheila Factor of North Jackson, Ohio
    10. John Keane of Lewis Center, Ohio

    Winners who already own CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan accounts will use the awards to boost their ongoing savings. Those winners who are not current account owners, will open accounts and use their awards to get a jump start on their college savings!

    Thank you to everyone who participated. Congratulations to all our winners!

    *If your name is listed here as a winner and you have not yet contacted CollegeAdvantage, please do so now so that you don’t risk forfeiting your award. Email Amy Lyle at alyle@CollegeAdvantage.com to claim your prize as soon as possible. Please note that the list of winners is subject to change.

  • Save Now For Future College Costs

    by Amy Lyle | Feb 01, 2017

    Saving for college is a forward-looking action plan. No matter the age of a child, it is never too early and it is never too late to start saving for them.

    CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, helps families across the nation save money for their children’s future college costs in a tax-advantaged manner. What are the benefits? First, all contributions and earnings grow tax-free in a 529 plan. Second, when a 529 account withdrawal is requested to cover qualified higher education expenses, the amount taken out will be tax-free. Third, a CollegeAdvantage account owner who is an Ohio resident can deduct 529 contributions from their Ohio taxable income, up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap. The taxpayer can continue to subtract $2,000 per year from their Ohio taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.

    A 529 account is an excellent alternative to student loan debt. Saving for college now, while potentially challenging initially to include in a budget, is far cheaper than paying off students loans later in life. There are steps to take once a 529 account has been open that can simplify setting aside college savings.

    A straightforward way to save is to set up automatic deposits to be placed in an Ohio 529 College Savings Account and then forget about it. Many account owners find it’s easiest to have contributions automatically transferred to the 529 account before the funds are unintentionally used for other expenses. Electronically transferred 529 contributions can be scheduled to match paycheck deposits or to another monthly contribution schedule.

    Some employers also offer payroll deduction, where a portion of a paycheck can be deposited directly into a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 account. Direct deposit of payroll contributions makes it easy to save regularly to meet college-saving goals. The 529 account owner can login to their account and establish payroll deduction through direct deposit or complete and mail a payroll deduction form. A side note: A FifthThird Certificate of Deposit (CD), which requires a $500 minimum contribution to open, is not available for purchase through automatic recurring contributions or payroll deduction.

    Additionally, another way to boost a 529 college savings plan is to contribute federal and state tax returns, pay raises, or bonuses to the 529 account. The average tax return is $2,466. Adding $2,500 a year to a 529 plan could cover as much as 40% of college at an Ohio public university, based on 18 years at 6% growth.

    CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. By saving regularly through automatic contributions or payroll deduction, even small amounts add up to big savings over time. Every amount contributed to a 529 will grow tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free. For Ohio taxpayers, CollegeAdvantage 529 plan contributions can be deducted from their state taxable income, up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary. Keep moving forward to reach your college savings goal for ​your child.

    Ready to start with Ohio’s 529 Savings Program? It’s easy to open an account here. Already have an account and want to make some changes? Log in to a 529 account to update information, perform account maintenance, or increase automatic deposits or payroll deduction contribution amount.

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