• OTTA Office Closed For Thanksgiving

    by Amy Lyle | Nov 17, 2017

    The office of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 23, for Thanksgiving.

    Our Customer Service department (1-800-AFFORD-IT) will also be closed for the holiday. Our representatives are available to assist you on regular business days from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET before or after the holiday. However, you always have access your 529 account online 24/7. You may transact business online as usual, where you can even make account contributions.

    The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will be closed as well on Thursday, Nov. 23. Additionally, the NYSE will close early at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24.  Any transaction requested on a holiday, weekend, or after the NYSE closes will be processed on the next business day.

    Our OTTA office will be open for business as usual on Friday, Nov. 25.

    For some entertainment ideas over the holiday weekend,

    • Ohio.org lists interesting events being held across Ohio in celebration of Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season.
    • The Ohio History Connection will host events around Ohio during the holiday weekend to entertain all families. Ohio History Connection is preparing to create exhibits for the new Ohio’s Veterans Memorial and Museum, which is being built in Columbus. The organization collecting stories and mementos from Ohio’s active military members and veterans to archive and preserve our state’s longstanding involvement of protecting our country. If you’d like to donate or gather more information, please email veterans@ohiohistory.org or call 614-297-2535.

    We wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Veterans: GI Bill & 529 Plans Cover College Costs

    by Amy Lyle | Nov 09, 2017

    There are over 20 million military veterans in the United States today and nearly two million men and women actively serving in our active duty, National Guard, and reserve armed forces. Upon entering their respective branch of service, each took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.” Among the freedoms that this oath and this commitment to service protects is the freedom to choose a path of education, training, or certification that ensures a rewarding career and economic prosperity.  On this Veterans Day, let us take pause and express our gratitude to all those who have served and are serving our great nation, for the many blessings of freedom we enjoy would not be possible without their willingness to answer the call to service. 

    U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs administers the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This federal assistance includes 36 months of education benefits: full in-state public school tuition and fees (there is a national maximum rate cap for tuition and fees for attending a private college), monthly housing allowance, and an annual books and supplies stipend.

    If service members choose not to use these benefits for their own continuing education, they can transfer their unused GI bill benefits to their dependents — spouses and children. The education benefits can also be divided among the dependents, to pay for their college or vocational training.

    A 529 plan can supplement this federal education aid. If the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are split among multiple dependents and can’t pay all the costs for each one, then a 529 plan can help cover the remaining qualified higher education expenses associated with attending a college or vocational school. Eligible expenses range from tuition; mandatory fees; computer equipment and related technology and services; books; supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance; room and board costs or off campus housing during any academic period the beneficiary is enrolled at least half-time; 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.

    529 plans are a tax-advantaged way to save for college with tax-free earnings and tax-free withdrawals. Some states offer state income tax deductions or credits for 529 contributions. With Ohio’s 529 Plan – CollegeAdvantage, Ohio residents can currently deduct 529 contributions up to $2,000 per beneficiary, per year from their state income tax. However, with unlimited carry forward Ohioans can continue to deduct a large 529 plan contribution from their state income tax until all of it has been deducted. For instance, if they contribute $10,000 to your beneficiary’s account, they can deduct $2,000 from your state income tax for the next five years.

    A 529 plan works well in conjunction with the Post-9/11 GI Bill. To learn more about Ohio’s 529 Plan, visit here. Why consider saving with CollegeAdvantage? Morningstar, a trusted investment research and management company, reviews the nation’s 529 college savings programs annually.  Ohio’s 529 Plan is proud to announce that the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan retained its silver rating. Furthermore, Morningstar upgraded the CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Plan to a bronze ranking. This makes Ohio one of eight states that have both their Direct and Advisor 529 Plans placed in best-in-class investment options by Morningstar. The high ranking of both CollegeAdvantage 529 Plans highlights the strength of these two college savings plans as well as the industry’s regard for CollegeAdvantage as one of the top 529 plans in the nation.

    Other industry-trusted organizations has also highly regard Ohio’s 529 Plan. Kiplinger recently released its rankings for the best 529 college savings plans and the report recognizes Ohio’s 529 Plan as having best age-based portfolio for conservative investors. In addition, Kiplinger drew special attention to two of Individual Investment Options. Business Insider recently ranked CollegeAdvantage as the third best college savings plan in the nation. Savingforcollege.com, a trusted college-savings industry resource, analyzes the investment performance of the nation’s 529 plans on a quarterly basis and ranks them. Ohio’s 529 Plan is listed as first in the nation in the 5-year performance category and second in the nation in the 10-year performance category. 

    What if parents, who have been saving for college in a 529 plan, have their child selected to attend an U.S. military academy? The proud parents still have access to the college savings funds. While considered a non-qualified withdrawal, the parents can ask for a 529 plan disbursement up to the estimated cost of attending the military academy without incurring a 10% federal tax penalty. The earnings portion only of the withdrawal will be subject to federal, state, and local taxes.

    Tim Gorrell is the executive director of Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. Previously, he served as the director of the Ohio Department of Veteran Services. Colonel Gorrell, who retired from the U.S. Army after serving 31 years, is a highly awarded and decorated military leader. For more than 25 years, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority has sponsored and administered CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 College Savings Program. CollegeAdvantage oversees more than 633,000 accounts and over $10.88 billion in assets. Visit CollegeAdvantage.com or call 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734) for more information.

  • Ohio’s Direct 529 Plan Lists Its “Top 10”

    by Amy Lyle | Nov 03, 2017

    Congratulations on taking the first step to start saving for your child’s college costs by opening a 529 plan! Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, has tools and calculators to help you shape the college savings plan that right for your family’s needs. CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan offers a diverse range of investment options from which you can create your college-savings strategy. These 529 saving options include ready-made age-based portfolios, ready-made risk-based portfolios, individual investment options, and FDIC-insured banking options, all provided from our partners and leading investment managers — Vanguard, Dimensional Fund Advisors, and Fifth Third Bank.

    Would you like to know which investment options other Direct Plan account owners have selected? We’ve created a “Top 10” list to show which portfolios hold the largest balances of customer’s Direct Plan accounts.

    Top 10 investments options in Ohio’s 529 Plan

    The top 10 investment options with the highest value of assets under management (fund balances in millions, as of Sept. 30, 2017) are:

    1. Vanguard Aggressive Age-Based Portfolio (ready-made age-based portfolio), $1,155.75
    2. Vanguard Moderate Age-Based Portfolio (ready-made age-based portfolio), $704.40
    3. Advantage Age-Based Portfolio (ready-made age-based portfolio), $598.27
    4. Vanguard 500 Index Option (individual investment option), $528.98
    5. Vanguard Aggressive Growth Index Portfolio (ready-made risk-based portfolio), $428.09
    6. Vanguard Growth Index Portfolio (ready-made risk-based portfolio), $259.40
    7. Vanguard Extended Market Index Option (individual investment option), $229.19
    8. Vanguard Wellington Option (individual investment option), $219.58
    9. Vanguard Moderate Growth Index Portfolio (ready-made risk-based portfolio), $185.44
    10. Fifth Third Savings Account (FDIC-insured bank option), $150.69

    The total balance of the 24 investment options offered in the CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan as of Sept. 30, 2017, was $5.48 billion, an increase of 15.4% over the prior year (Sept. 30, 2016).

    CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. If you’re ready to start saving for your child’s future college expenses, go online to open an account. If you already have a 529 plan, it might be time to re-examine your college-savings goals, perform account maintenance, or make an asset exchange. And remember: A 529 college savings plan is an excellent alternative to student loan debt.

    Please Note:

    CollegeAdvantage is a 529 college savings plan offered and administered by the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, an office within the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Before investing, please read the Offering Statement and all Supplements carefully and consider risks, fees, your investment objectives, and other relevant factors, before investing. If you are not a taxpayer in the State of Ohio, you should consider whether your home state offers any state tax or other benefits for investing in its 529 Plan. Other than the Fifth Third Investment Options (Banking Options), money contributed to an Account is not a bank deposit and is not insured by the FDIC or guaranteed in any way. Except for contributions invested in Banking Options, participants assume all investment risk related to the CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan, including the potential loss of Principal. Contributions invested in Banking Options are an obligation of Fifth Third Bank and are insured by the FDIC, subject to certain limitations.

  • CollegeAdvantage Receives A “Silver Rating” From Morningstar

    by Amy Lyle | Nov 01, 2017

    Columbus, OH – Oct. 27, 2017 – In a report released this week, Morningstar, Inc. the leading provider of independent investment research, has named Ohio’s CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Savings Plan one of the top 529 plans in the country by awarding a “Silver” rating for the seventh consecutive year. Along with CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Savings Plan’s silver rating the CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Plan received a “Bronze” rating. This makes Ohio one of only eight states that have both their Direct and Advisor 529 plans placed in the best-in-class by Morningstar. 

    “We believe we offer the very best college savings and investment opportunities in the country,” said Tim Gorrell, ​executive director for Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, “and for Morningstar, a highly regarded industry observer, to rate our plans so highly only promotes greater trust and confidence among our current and potential account holders.”  

    Each year Morningstar rates 529 college savings plan. The plans were rated based on the quality of the portfolio of investments options, investment options’ performance, skill of the options’ managers, stewardship practices of the 529 plan’s program manager and costs associates with the plan. In 2012, Morningstar changed its rating system to use a “Five Pillar System” similar to the way it ranks mutual funds.

    • People: Are the managers and researcher directing the plan’s investments skilled and well-supported?
    • Process: Are the age-based options based on solid research and implanted well? Are the strategies sensible and past successes likely to be repeated?
    • Parent: Is the program manager a good caretaker of college saver’s capital? Is the state managing the plan professionally?
    • Performance: Has the plan delivered strong risk-adjusted performance, and will it continue?
    • Price: Are the investment options a good value, and do state tax benefits defray costs?

    Ohio’s 529 Plans — Direct and Advisor — have met or exceeded Morningstar’ expectations on these components. The rating system groups 529 plans as Gold, Silver, Bronze, Neutral, or Negative.

    CollegeAdvantage’s Silver rating, according to Morningstar, indicates a plan with many industry best practices. This year, Morningstar rated 84 529 college savings plans.   According to Morningstar…” CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan offers a variety of investment choices to suit a wide range of preference, and fees are competitive and the 2018 state tax deduction increase to $4,000 from $2,000 makes the plan even more attractive for Ohioans. The wide-ranging lineup may also appeal to out-of-state college savers.”

    Morningstar upgraded CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Plan, administered by BlackRock. According to the analyst’s report, BlackRock “made a number of improvements during the last year. It cut fees meaningfully, with expenses for the age-based portfolios falling by 17 basis points on average. Moreover, in November 2017, the plan will restructure the age-based portfolios by moving from a stepped approach, which courts market-timing risk by making a number of large single-day asset-allocation shifts, to a progressive process that allows for a smoother transition to bonds from stocks. The plan’s rating increased to Bronze from Neutral in light of these changes.”

    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 sixth largest state sponsor of 529 plan 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 more than $10.88 billion in assets under management and over 633,056 total accounts as of Sep​t. 30, 2017. To learn more, visit www.CollegeAdvantage.com.

    Contact:

    Judy Cunningham, PR Manager

    Ohio Tuition Trust Authority

    614-752-9350, jcunningham@CollegeAdvantage.com

  • OTTA Office Closed For Veterans Day

    by Amy Lyle | Nov 01, 2017

    The office of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority will be closed on Friday, Nov. 10, in observance of Veterans Day.

    Our Customer Service department (1-800-AFFORD-IT) will also be closed for the holiday. Our representatives are available to assist you on regular business days from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET before or after the holiday.

    Remember, you always have access your 529 account online 24/7. You may transact business online as usual, where you can even make account contributions. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will be open. However, any transaction requested on a holiday, weekend, or after the NYSE closes will be processed on the next business day.

    Here are some relevant links in recognition of the day:

    • From the Ohio Department of Higher Education, here are education opportunities for veterans and active service members.
    • If you are active in the military or are a veteran, here is a listing of Ohio’s County Veteran Service offices and commissioners. See all the resources available from the Ohio Department of Veteran Services.
    • Ohio.org lists the many ceremonies and parades being held across Ohio in honor of Veterans Day.
    • The Ohio History Connection will host events to recognize veterans and active military throughout the weekend.
    • Additionally, Ohio History Connection is preparing to create exhibits for the new Ohio’s Veterans Memorial and Museum, which is being built in Columbus. The organization collecting stories and mementos from Ohio’s active military members and veterans to archive and preserve our state’s longstanding involvement of protecting our country. If you’d like to donate or gather more information, please email veterans@ohiohistory.org or call 614-297-2535.
  • Don’t Be Afraid Of 529s

    by Amy Lyle | Oct 29, 2017

    As a chill lingers in the air, let’s conquer some of those fears of what you can and can’t do with a 529 plan.

    Fear: I don’t have extra money for savings.

    Fact: Budgets are a challenge for everyone but there are simple steps to take to build a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Savings Plan account. The easiest way to save is to regularly contribute money before you have a chance to spend it on something else. You can fill out a form to set up recurring contributions to be made directly from your bank account to your 529 plan. Time your contributions to align with payday, or establish a monthly contribution schedule. Even if you’re putting away a minimum amount, it can add up.

    ​Disappearing expenses — those costs that are in your budget for a limited time — can start to fade back into your budget; instead add them to your 529 accounts. For instance, preschool is a large disappearing expense for families. Once your child starts school full time, consider rolling over your former preschool or day care costs into regular contributions to your 529 plan. The funds are still going to your child’s educational needs but now you’re investing for their future college costs.

    With no cost to join, you can set aside more money for college by shopping through Upromise. Connected with hundreds of America’s leading companies, your Upromise membership can earn you cash back as you shop at the stores you normally would. By linking your Upromise account to your 529 plan, your earnings can be automatically transferred, subject to a set minimum dollar amount.

    For the milestones in your child’s life, have heart-to-heart conversations with family and friends about making contributions to your child’s 529 account. Loved ones often would prefer to give the gift of college, rather some toy or trinket that’s quickly forgotten. With Ugift, you can set up a code which will authorize gift givers to donate directly to your 529 plan online without needing the actual account number. Once your family and friends have the code, they can continue to make one-time or recurring electronic gifts for college without fees.

    Fear: What if my child doesn’t go to college in Ohio?

    Fact: Never fear! You can use your 529 account for qualified higher education expenses at nearly any public or private, two-year or four-year college nationwide! The institution must be a U.S. accredited college, university, graduate school, or technical school, which means that it is eligible to participate in U.S. Department of Education student financial aid programs. To see if a school is eligible, visit FAFSA to verify it has a Federal School Code.

    Fear: What if my child doesn’t attend college right away?

    Fact: There are no time limits for when a 529 account must be used. Let the 529 plan sit and watch the tax-free earnings continue to grow.

    Fear: What if my child doesn’t go to college?

    Fact: You always have access to the money you have saved in a 529 plan. Hold onto to the account to see if your child rethinks the decision. If not, you can transfer the funds to any member of the family of your beneficiary, including yourself, without any tax consequences.

    Remember, 529 plans are not just for traditional four-year college; they can be used at any federally accredited educational institutions including two-year, graduate, professional or any post-secondary credential.

    And you always have the option of withdrawing all the funds from the 529 plan account. It will be considered a non-qualified withdrawal. Like a 401(k) or a traditional IRA retirement account, there is a penalty assessed if money drawn from the account is used for something other than its intended purpose. So, an additional 10% federal tax penalty will be imposed on the earnings portion of the withdrawal. You will also owe federal, state, and local income taxes on the earnings.

    Fear: Won’t the 529 account have a negative effect on my child’s financial aid?

    Fact: The assets in a 529 plan are a component in determining the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Current federal guidelines state that if a student is a dependent and the 529 account is owned by a parent, then the account will be considered the parent’s asset and will be calculated ay just 5.64% of its value when determining the EFC. So yes, 529 plans are taken into consideration when determining financial-aid eligibility, but their impact on need-based financial aid is minimal.

    Fear: What if my child receives a scholarship? Can I still use my 529 plan?

    Fact: Yes, your 529 plan is still an important component of your college-saving strategy even if your child does earn a scholarship. Very few scholarships cover 100% of the costs; for instance, a scholarship may only cover the cost of tuition. A 529 plan is perfect for filling any gaps with other qualified expenses such as: room and board during any academic period the beneficiary is enrolled at least half-time; mandatory fees; computer equipment and related technology and services; books; supplies; and equipment required for enrollment or attendance; and certain expenses for a special-needs student.

    529 plans help you prepare for the future. And you don’t need to look into a crystal ball to determine it. While visiting CollegeAdvantage online, you can go to the tools menu and use the calculators to set your savings goal. If you need help determining how much to put aside each month, fill in the College Savings Planner to receive personalized saving information. After inputting your college savings goals and examining your total projected costs, you will receive an estimated monthly amount needed to meet your savings objective. Please note that this is an example for illustrative purposes only. For additional advice, consult with your legal, financial, tax, or other advisor.

    There’s only one thing to be afraid of with 529 plans — not starting one. If you are ready to start with Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, it’s easy to open an account here.

  • Fifth Third Raising 529 CD Rates Again

    by Amy Lyle | Oct 27, 2017

    Beginning Oct. 27, 2017, Fifth Third Bank, an investment option partner with Ohio’s 529 Plan, is increasing the rates on three different terms of 529 Certificates of Deposit (CDs). cd-apys-as-of-10-27-2017-chart

    The rate for the 24 - 35 Month 529 CD will increase from 1.00% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) to 1.45% APY. The APY for the 36 – ​47 Month CD will rise to 1.55%. The increased rate for the 48-59 Month CD is now 1.55%. 

    These new APY are higher than the 2017-2018 tuition inflation rate of 0.6% for Ohio’s thirteen public universities. In August, Fifth Third also increased the rates on 529 CDS with terms of 6 - 11 months and those with terms of 12-23 months. Therefore, if your student is looking ahead to college and you want to be more conservative in your 529 saving plan, you have options.

    The minimum contribution to add a CD to your 529 investments is $500. Current CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account owners can purchase a CD online. Log in to your Direct Plan account and make a one-time electronic contribution from your bank account to buy a CD. You can also download an Additional Contribution Form and mail it with a check to purchase a CD. After logging in, you can also go to “Change Your Investment Options” section to exchange a current investment with a $500 minimum to buy a CD.  

    Once the CD reaches maturity, the balance will transfer to a Fifth Third 529 Savings Account. At this point, you can withdraw the funds, exchange the funds to another Fifth Third 529 CD or to other CollegeAdvantage investment options*, or leave the money in the savings account to earn interest. If the CD is liquidated prior to its date of maturity, there are penalties assessed. Both the Fifth Third 529 Savings Account and the Fifth Third 529 CDs are FDIC-insured investment options.

    Go here to purchase a CD with these higher interest rates and start saving for your child’s future college expenses today! If you haven’t opened a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan, it’s easy to enroll online and purchase a Fifth Third 529 CD at that time. Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, has tools to help you determine how much to save for future college costs as well as to see the cost of waiting to save.

    Federal regulations for qualified 529 programs limit the number of times account owners can reallocate investment options for the same beneficiary. The 529 account owner is allowed to make two exchanges of assets from one investment option to another per calendar year, per beneficiary. Please refer to the CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan Offering Statement and Participation Agreement for additional details.

    Fifth Third Bank is a member of the FDIC.

    cd-apys-as-of-10-27-2017-chart
    cd-apys-as-of-10-27-2017-chart
     
  • Fifth Third Bank Increases Ohio’s 529 Plan CD Rates

    by Amy Lyle | Oct 26, 2017

    Beginning Aug. 17, 2017,  Fifth Third Bank, an investment option partner with Ohio’s 529 Plan, will offer higher rates on two FDIC-insured 529 Certificates of Deposit (CDs): Those with terms of 6 - 11 months and those with terms of 12-23 months. The Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is now set at 1.00% for both CD terms.  (Previously, the APY was set at 0.30% for the 6-11 Month CD and 0.50% for the 12-23 Month CD.)

    cd-apys-as-of-8-17-2017-chartCDs require a minimum $500 contribution and anyone — parents, grandparents, friends and other loved ones – can purchased a CD to help cover your child’s future college costs. 

    Current CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account owners can purchase a CD online. Log in to your Direct Plan account and make a one-time contribution electronically from your bank account to buy a CD. You can also download an Additional Contribution Form and mail it with your minimum contribution of $500 to purchase a CD. After logging in, you can also go to “Change Your Investment Options” section to exchange a current investment with a $500 minimum to buy a CD.  

    If you haven’t opened a Direct 529 Plan, it’s easy to enroll online and purchase a Fifth Third 529 CD at that time.

    Once the CD reaches maturity, the balance will transfer to a Fifth Third 529 Savings Account. At this point, you can withdraw the funds, exchange the funds to another Fifth Third 529 CD or to other CollegeAdvantage investment options*, or leave the money in the savings account to earn interest. There are penalties assessed if the CD is liquidated prior to its date of maturity. Both the Fifth Third 529 Savings Account and the Fifth Third 529 CDs are FDIC-insured investment options.

    Are you interested in getting this new CD interest rate? Go here to purchase your CD and start saving for your child’s future college expenses today! If you are wondering how much to save or the cost of waiting to save, visit here for tools to gain a better understanding on the power of investing.

    Federal regulations for qualified 529 programs limit the number of times account owners can reallocate investment options for the same beneficiary. The 529 account owner is allowed to make two exchanges of assets from one investment option to another per calendar year, per beneficiary. Please refer to the CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan Offering Statement and Participation Agreement for additional details.

    Fifth Third Bank is a member of the FDIC.

  • More Medals For Ohio’s 529 Plan

    by Amy Lyle | Oct 26, 2017

    Morningstar, a trusted investment research and management company, reviews the nation’s 529 college savings programs annually. Once the analysis is complete, Morningstar then complies a ranking of the 529 plans in a report typically released each October.  

    Ohio’s 529 Plan is proud to announce that the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan retained its silver rating. Furthermore, Morningstar upgraded the CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Plan to a bronze ranking. This makes Ohio one of eight states that have both their Direct and Advisor 529 Plans placed in best-in-class investment options by Morningstar. The high ranking of both CollegeAdvantage 529 Plans highlights the strength of these two college savings plans as well as the industry’s regard for CollegeAdvantage as one of the top 529 plans in the nation.

    “We believe we offer the very best college savings and investment opportunities in the country,” said Tim Gorrell, Executive Director for Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, “and for Morningstar, a highly regarded industry observer, to rate our plans so highly only promotes greater trust and confidence among our current and potential account holders.”  

    Silver- and bronze-rated plans mostly demonstrate industry best practices, according to the Morningstar report, by “offering some combination of the following attractive features: a strong set of underlying investments, a solid manager selection process, a well-researched asset-allocation approach, an appropriate set of investment options to meet investor needs, low fees, and strong oversight from the state and program manager. These features improve the odds that the plan will continue to represent a strong option for investors.”

    According to the Morningstar analyst, CollegeAdvantage Direct “529 Savings Plan offers a variety of investment choices to suit a wide range of preferences, and fees are competitive. ... The wide-ranging lineup may also appeal to out-of-state college savers ... The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority continues to improve the plan on the margin…”

    Morningstar upgraded CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Plan, administered by BlackRock. According to the analyst’s report, BlackRock “made a number of improvements during the last year. It cut fees meaningfully, with expenses for the age-based portfolios falling by 17 basis points on average. Moreover, in November 2017, the plan will restructure the age-based portfolios by moving from a stepped approach, which courts market-timing risk by making a number of large single-day asset-allocation shifts, to a progressive process that allows for a smoother transition to bonds from stocks. The plan’s rating increased to Bronze from Neutral in light of these changes.”

    Morningstar considers five factors to determine the ranking of a 529 plan:

    • Process — What investment options are offered? If there were recent asset allocation changes, did the program administrator hire a well-respected firm for their expertise?
    • People — Who are the underlying fund managers and their expertise?
    • Parent — How is strong is the oversight of the program manager?
    • Performance — How are the investment options performing and does it set a strong precedence?
    • Price — Are the offered investment options of value to the account owner and does the program offer low fees?

    Ohio’s 529 Plans — Direct and Advisor — have met or exceeded Morningstar’ expectations on these components.

    If you like to read more from this Morningstar report, follow this link. To do more research on CollegeAdvantage and the tax advantages it offers, please visit here. If you are ready start saving for your child’s future college costs in CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan, you can enroll online. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, you way.

  • Back-To-School Winners Announced

    by Amy Lyle | Oct 20, 2017

    September was not only College Savings Month but also the back-to-school season. To celebrate, Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, gave away five $529 college savings awards, which the winners can use to start a 529 plan or to add to a current account.

    The winners* were randomly selected. They are:

    • Desiree Harold of Lewis Center, OH
    • Georgann Hollister of Toledo, OH
    • Robert Cordes of Amelia, OH
    • Tracy Martin of Seven Hills, OH
    • ​Barb Bilinovich of North Royalton, OH

    Don’t see your name on this list? CollegeAdvantage teamed up with the Cincinnati Bengals to offer a $10,000 college saving award! The Facebook giveaway runs until 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 26. You can enter once per day, per email address. Read the rules here. Don’t miss out to score BIG for your CollegeAdvantage 529 account!

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

    If you’d like to learn more about saving for college in a tax-advantaged 529 plan, visit here. Use our online tools and calculators to build the 529 plan that suits your family’s needs. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. 

    * 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 us to claim your prize as soon as possible. Please note that the list of winners is subject to change.
  • Save For College Before Your Child Is Born

    by Amy Lyle | Oct 17, 2017

    We hear congratulations are due! What an exciting time for your growing family! As you’re waiting for your bundle of joy to arrive, there are steps you can take right now to secure their future, saving for their college costs in a 529 plan. Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, is here to help you reach your savings goal.

    Open A 529 Account Before Their Birth

    Did you know that you can establish a 529 college savings plan for your child before they’re even born? It’s simple. Every 529 account has an account owner, usually a parent, and the beneficiary, usually the child. To be named as the beneficiary, your child must have a Social Security number. Until that time, you can open a 529 plan and designate yourself as the owner and beneficiary. This way, you can contribute to your child’s future college plans before they even arrive. Once you have your baby’s Social Security number, you can easily change the account to make them the beneficiary.

    Baby Showers: Ask For The Gift Of College

    There will be many showers to celebrate the impending arrival for your baby. And there are many items you will need for your child. However, why not ask for the gift of college at these festivities? Loved ones want to give presents that have significance and what gift can last longer than a college education or technical training? A 529 gift contribution lasts a lifetime.

    Ohio’s 529 Plan has teamed up with Ugift to make receiving gift contributions simple. As the account owner of a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan, you can request a unique Ugift code, which allows the gift givers to donate online directly to your 529 plan without needing the account number. Gift givers use the Ugift code to contribute to the account at any time and as many times as they like.

    If the gift giver would prefer to write a check, make sure it’s payable to Ohio Tuition Trust Authority (the state agency which administers CollegeAdvantage) and includes your child’s CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan 11-digit account number.

    What if a loved one wants to jump-start your child’s college fund? Per federal 529 laws, an individual can give up to $14,000 or a married couple give $28,000 to each child annually without triggering a federal gift tax. Single filers can also make a one-time $70,000 contribution and married couples can give $140,000 per child to take advantage of five-year’s worth of tax-free gifts at one time. For more information, have them talk with their tax advisor or estate-planning attorney.

    Ohio gift givers also receive a tax break. For Ohio residents, contributions to CollegeAdvantage can be deducted from their Ohio taxable income in any amount up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. Therefore, their gift of college savings not only helps your child but it can help them, too.

    Necessary Nesting Needs For Your Newborn

    Car seats. Cribs. Baby bouncers. Baby clothes. Bottles. Baby shampoo. Diapers. Oh so many diapers. And the list goes on and on. When you are starting to buy all the needed items for your baby, shop with Upromise, a free loyalty program that offers its members cash back for their purchases from a wide variety of businesses. Participating partners include over 850 online retail stores from which Upromise members can earn 5% cash back. Others organizations include over 20,000 grocery and drug stores, where you can earn money back for your everyday purchases as well as earn additional eCoupon rebates.  

    When you connect your debit and/or credit card to your Upromise account, you can start earning rewards with your everyday shopping. By linking your Upromise account to your CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account, you can roll over these rebates to build up your 529 plan.

    Would you like to see how others used Upromise? Read this Saving Story from a CollegeAdvantage family who used it to add to their 529 savings.

    Compound Interest

    One of the reason to start a 529 college savings fund as early as possible for your child is to take full advantage of the power of compound interest. Compound interest is interest gained on contributions, earnings, and interest already accumulated in the 529 account. It’s one of the most dynamic tool to grow a 529 plan. The longer a college savings plan has time to develop, the longer compound interest can add the 529 account. Also, one of the tax benefit of investing in a 529 plan is tax-free earnings so every dollar of investment growth is yours to use, tax-free.

    While compound interest in a 529 college saving plan is a huge advantage, compound interest with student loans is a huge disadvantage. This is why 529 plans are a great alternative to student loan debt, which currently stands at $1.3 trillion held by 44 million borrowers in America. Saving now for your child’s post-secondary education or training is far cheaper than paying off student loans debt later in life.

    The Cost Of Waiting To Save For College

    Compound interest is essential for account growth; this is why we encourage you to start saving as soon as possible. However, it is never too late or too soon to start saving for your child’s future college cost. Ohio’s 529 Plan is here to help wherever you are on the saving path. CollegeAdvantage offer a Cost Of Waiting Tool, which can show what a difference saving early can make to the account.

    Long-Term 529 Investment Performance

    Another crucial component for growth in a 529 college savings account is its long-term investment performance. Saving​for​college.com provides unbiased research on 529 plans, financial aid, and scholarships as well as analyzes and rank the performance of the nation’s 529 plans on a quarterly basis. Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, consistently receives high marks for its long-term investment performance.

    As of ​June 3​0, 2017, CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan is again ranked first across the nation for the best performance in five-year category. The Direct Plan ranked fourth overall in the nation in the three-year performance. In the ten-year performance category, the Direct Plan ​is now ranked second across the nation.

    Morningstar also highly regards CollegeAdvantage, giving Ohio’s 529 Direct Plan a silver ranking in 2016, making it one of the top 13 529 plans out of 63 reviewed. According to their analyst’s report, “Thanks to low fees and an impressive investment lineup, Ohio's direct-sold CollegeAdvantage plan remains a top choice for residents and nonresidents alike.” Additionally, the report states, “Results generally look attractive, with the majority of plan options earning 4 or 5 star ratings. Tax benefits create further incentive for Ohioans, as contributors can deduct up to $2,000 per beneficiary from their taxable income. The plethora of options may also appeal to out of state do-it-yourselfers.”

    Age-Based 529 Investment Options

    CollegeAdvantage offer a wealth of 529 investment options, from leading investment managers VanguardDimensional Fund Advisors, and Fifth Third Bank. The investments include ready-made age-based portfolios. This investment option is simple to use for each portfolio’s asset mix and allocations are pre-determined. Additionally, risk is automatically reduced as your child gets closer to college age.

    Not sure what investment options fit your investment personality best? Answer our risk tolerance questionnaire to determine with which asset allocation mix you would be most comfortable – conservative, moderate, or aggressive.

    529 Plan Tax Benefits

    So why use 529 plans to save for college? These accounts offer tax advantages other savings options don’t have, such as:

    • Tax-free earnings. A regular savings account will have taxes assessed yearly but a 529 investment plan grows tax-free at the federal and state level.
    • Tax-free withdrawals. Funds withdrawn from 529 plans are tax free when used for qualified higher education expenses — the necessary costs for enrollment or attendance at an eligible education institution like: tuition, mandatory fees, computer equipment to name a few.
    • State income tax deduction for contributions to Ohio’s 529 Plan. As stated earlier, Ohio residents can currently deduct 529 contributions up to $2,000 per beneficiary, per year from their state income tax. However, with unlimited carry forward they can continue to deduct a large 529 plan contribution from your state income tax until all of it has been deducted. For instance, if they contribute $10,000 to your beneficiary’s account, they can deduct $2,000 from your state income tax for the next five years.

    Ohio’s 529 Plan Can Be Used Nationwide

    And don’t worry; you don’t need to know where your baby will want to go to college when you’re using Ohio’s 529 College Savings Plan. CollegeAdvantage 529 account can be used at any two-year, four-year, graduate or technical schools nationwide (even some overseas) that accepts federal financial aid.

    Open a CollegeAdvantage before your child is born to plan to save for their future training and education. This way, the college savings account can grow from the maximum impact of compound interest and 529 tax advantages. 529 accounts are an excellent alternative to student loan debt. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. 

  • Enter For A College Savings Award With The Browns Baby Backers

    by Amy Lyle | Oct 13, 2017

    The Cleveland Browns and University Hospitals have partnered with Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, to offer the Browns Baby Backers.

    The grand-prize winner will $500 college savings award from CollegeAdvantage to start a Direct 529 Plan or add to an existing Direct 529 account. Additionally, the grand-prize winner will receive a personalized youth Browns football jersey for their Baby Backer.

    To enter to win, share your photo of your newest Brown Baby Backer showing their team pride on Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtag #UHBrowns. Or submit your entry here.

    This giveaway ends on Jan. 7, 2018. Don’t let the game clock run out without submitting your best picture of your Browns Baby Backer.

  • Fill In FAFSA In October

    by Amy Lyle | Oct 04, 2017

    It’s hard to believe but your student will be graduating from high school next spring. You have been planning for this next chapter in their lives for years by saving for their future education with a 529 plan. This past summer, the family vacation included college campus visits. You and your child researched where are the best post-secondary educational and training institutions for their chosen career path. Now that October is here, you know it’s time to take the next step for your child’s college education. It’s time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

    What Is FAFSA

    FAFSA is the federal application used to apply for need-based federal financial aid to attend four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, vocational schools, and graduate schools. Federal student aid is available in a variety of forms. Need-based federal financial aid is typically offered in the form of grants, loans or work-study. Before you accept any aid, make sure you understand the financial commitments that come with them. A Pell Grant will not have to be repaid. Federally subsidized student loans and parental loans must be repaid with interest. Work-study programs allow enrolled students to work part-time to earn money for college costs.

    It’s best to submit your completed FAFSA application as soon as possible, as the financial aid is offered on first-come, first-serve basis. So the earlier the submission, the better the chances are to receive federal monetary assistance. Remember, your CollegeAdvantage 529 account can be used in conjunction with financial aid and scholarships.

    Other organizations — like states, universities, colleges, and private organizations —also use the FAFSA to determine what institutional grants or loans to offer students interested in attending their school. Therefore, it is in your family’s best interest to apply for FAFSA to receive need-based federal financial aid as that information is also used to additional avenues for student aid.

    October Start Date

    In 2015, the federal government simplified the FAFSA process. You can now begin the financial aid application procedure in October, which is three months earlier than previously allowed. Originally, the earliest the FAFSA form could be submitted was the first day in January of the year in which your student started or continued their college education. This start date was moved to October so it would better align the financial aid application process with the college application process. College-bound students and their families can now find out how much need-based federal financial aid they may receive about the same time they receive college acceptances. Armed with this information, you and your child can better determine what schools will offer the best financial fit.  By knowing how much federal monetary assistance you may receive, you can best estimate your child’s college costs and so manage the accrued savings in your 529 account.

    Since states, universities, colleges, and private organizations also use FAFSA to determine what grants or loans to offer, you and your student may also learn earlier if there will be any additional financial assistance available.

    Prior-Prior Year Tax Return

    Additionally, the federal government now allows FAFSA to be filled out with the income tax return from two years prior, known as “prior-prior year.” Previously, the federal financial aid application was filled out with the previous year’s tax return information. For example, if your child filed a FAFSA for the 2016-2017 school year, it would have contained your 2015 tax return information. Due to when they received their W-2s, most families filed their tax returns after the January FAFSA start date. This slowed down the financial assistance process. As federal financial aid is given out in a first-come, first-served method, submitting the FAFSA form later because of delayed tax return filings could reduce the chance to receive federal financial aid. Now, with the use of the “prior-prior year” tax return, you can more readily fill in the FAFSA starting in October, and therefore, potentially increase the chance to receive financial assistance.

    Universities and colleges also benefit from the use of the “prior-prior year” tax return on FAFSA because it can reduce the amount of time needed to verify asset information since the IRS already has it. The schools can more readily determine and then quickly distribute their financial aid to students.

    IRS Data Retrieval Tool

    With the use of “prior-prior year” tax return, you can now take advantage of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). DRT electronically imports your accurate IRS information to the FAFSA form. This can reduce the amount of errors entered on the application as well as reduce the time needed to complete the form. DRT will also help colleges and universities to speed up their approval process as there will be less need to authenticate the financial information.

    For a great step-by-step guide on how to file the FAFSA, visit here. Or you can read this parents-focused guide from the U.S. Department of Education on how to come along side your child as they fill out FAFSA. There is also a checklist of documents to have readily available before you and your child begin to fill in federal financial aid application. If you would like to estimate of how much financial aid you might receive before doing the FAFSA paperwork, fill in the necessary information to this calculator.

    You should always fill out the FAFSA, even if you don’t think your child will qualify for any need-based financial aid. You never know for what financial assistance your child might qualify to use with your CollegeAdvantage account. Post-secondary educational institutions and private organizations also use the information on FAFSA to determine how to apply their financial aid and scholarships. FAFSA is also used to determine for what federal loans your family may qualify. So collect your paperwork fill out the FAFSA.

  • OTTA Office Closed For Columbus Day

    by Amy Lyle | Oct 02, 2017

    The offices of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority will be closed on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in observance of Columbus Day. Because of the holiday, our Customer Service department (1-800-AFFORD-IT) will also be closed for the day.

    Customer Service representatives are available to assist you on regular business days from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET before or after this holiday. As always, you have online access to your 529 account 24/7 and can even make an account contribution while the office is closed.

    The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will be open. Any transaction requested on a holiday, weekend, or after the NYSE closes will be processed on the next business day.

  • Crew SC Giveaway Winners Announced

    by Amy Lyle | Sep 30, 2017

    GGGGOOOOAAAALLLL!

    Fans of both the Columbus Crew SC and CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Plan scored big for their college savings accounts with two recent giveaways.

    In the inaugural Columbus Crew SC Starting 11 Sweepstakes, one grand prize winner was randomly selected from the Facebook giveaway to receive a $529 college savings award and a marquee Crew SC prize pack which included tickets to the Crew SC home match against D.C. United on Sept. 30 and a personalized Crew SC jersey. Ten runner-up winners were also chosen to receive tickets to the Sept. 30 Crew SC home match and a premium apparel item.

    The winners are:

    Grand-prize winner:
    Brad Mullinex

    Runners-up:     
    Mike Carter

    Jennie Feldtz

    Ally Gallagher

    Catherine Kelly

    Blake Loring

    Amy Mechling

    Todd Ricketts

    Callie Schwartz

    Trish Staiger

    Lucia Thomas

    For the Crew SC Junior Supporters, five winners were chosen in a sweepstakes conducted by Crew SC through their social media channels. These winners received a $105.29 college savings award as well as tickets to the Sept. 30 Crew SC home match and a premium apparel item.

    The winners are:

    April Redding

    Danielle Castle

    Jason Flowers

    Shawn Justice   

    Paul Risko

    Don’t see your name on this list? Visit CollegeAdvantage and enter to win one of five $529 college saving awards, as we celebrate the Back-To-School season. This sweepstakes ends  at 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 8. Enter once per day, per email address. Read the rules here. There won’t be any stoppage time, so don’t  miss the chance to score a goal for your CollegeAdvantage 529 account.

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

  • Kiplinger Ranks Ohio’s 529 Plan As One Of The Best

    by Amy Lyle | Sep 27, 2017

    Kiplinger recently released its rankings for the best 529 college savings plans and Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage is included on the list. In fact, the Kiplinger report recognizes Ohio’s 529 Plan as having best age-based portfolio for conservative investors. In addition, Kiplinger drew special attention to two of our Individual Investment Options.

    Here’s what Nellie S. Huang, the senior associate editor for Kiplinger, had to say about CollegeAdvantage: For “investors who would rather hold fewer stocks and more bonds, our top choice is the Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan conservative age-based portfolio. Of all the plans we reviewed, it offers the least risky path from beginning to end. At age 1, the plan’s conservative portfolio holds 50% of assets in stocks and 50% in bonds and cash. At age 19, all assets sit in cash.

    “The plan is built around funds from Vanguard — both index and actively managed — and Dimensional Fund Advisors. And among its static investment options, which include both portfolios and individual mutual funds, are the low-cost Admiral shares class of two actively managed Vanguard fund that are members of the Kiplinger 25, our favorite no-load mutual funds: Vanguard Wellington and Vanguard High-Yield Corporate.”

    CollegeAdvantage is proud to receive this recognition for our conservative age-based portfolios.  We’re proud of all our 529 investment options, ranging from ready-made, age-based and ready-made risk-based portfolios; individual investment options, and FDIC-insured banking options.  We’ve partnered with leading investment managers VanguardDimensional Fund Advisors, and Fifth Third Bank to provide these 529 plan investment options.

    Fifth Third Bank recently increased the rates on two of their FDIC-insured 529 CDs. Those CDs with terms of 6-11 months and 12-23 months have new Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of 1%. This APY is actually higher than the 2017-2018 tuition inflation rate of 0.6% for Ohio’s thirteen public universities. Therefore, if your child is getting ready to ready off to college and you want to be more conservative in your 529 saving plan, you have the choices among the conservative age-based portfolio, the capital preservation option, as well as the banking options.

    Not sure about your risk tolerance when it comes to investing? Ohio’s 529 Plan can help with our tools and calculators. Answer the questions on our risk tolerance questionnaire to gauge how comfortable you are when it comes to the risks and rewards of aggressive versus conservative approaches to growing your account value. The other calculator available are: the tax benefit tool, which compares the savings between a tax-free 529 plan to a taxable savings account; the college savings planner tool, which can estimate a monthly amount needed to reach you college savings goal; and the cost of waiting tool, which illustrates the power of compound interest.

    Kiplinger is not the only industry organization that has high regard for Ohio’s 529 Plan. Business Insider recently ranked CollegeAdvantage as the third best college savings plan in the nation. Savingforcollege.com, a trusted college-savings industry resource, analyzes the investment performance of the nation’s 529 plans on a quarterly basis and ranks them. Ohio’s 529 Plan is listed as first in the nation in the 5-year performance category and second in the nation in the 10-year performance category. Morningstar Inc. recognized CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan as Silver plan, making it one of the top 13 529 plans out of 63 reviewed. According to the Morningstar analyst’s report, “Thanks to low fees and an impressive investment lineup, Ohio's direct-sold CollegeAdvantage plan remains a top choice for residents and nonresidents alike.” Additionally, the report points out, “Results generally look attractive, with the majority of plan options earning 4 or 5 star ratings. Tax benefits create further incentive for Ohioans, as contributors can deduct up to $2,000 per beneficiary from their taxable income. The plethora of options may also appeal to out of state do-it-yourselfers.”

    To do more research on CollegeAdvantage and the tax advantages it offers, please visit here. If you are ready start your CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan, enroll online today. Remember, 529 plans are a great alternative to student loan debt. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, you way. 

  • Keep Your Ohio 529 Plan Account Information Updated

    by Amy Lyle | Sep 25, 2017

    In light of recent data breaches, it’s crucial your 529 college savings account is protected. This is why Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, has proactively instituted the now mandatory two-factor authentication process to access your account online.

    What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

    Now standard for financial institutions, two-factor authentication protects your valuable college savings account information from phishing attacks and identity theft. Two-Factor Authentication is an identification process that allows a customer access to information only after they prove their identity in these two categories: Knowledge (something they know), and possession (something they have).

    You probably already use two-factor authentication. When withdrawing money from an ATM, you must first have the card (possession – something only the customer would have) and then you must enter the PIN (knowledge – something only the customer would know). Most financial service providers also require two-factor authentication when accessing your accounts from a new desktop or other device. This double-check of identity allows the device to be secured for future use.

    ​Update The Phone Number ​On The 529 Account

    If it’s been a while since you’ve logged into your CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account, please make sure that your phone number is up-to-date. Your phone number is necessary to set up two-factor authentication, as you will receive either an automated outbound call or a SMS text to receive your PIN (Personal Identification Number). If your phone number is current, then you can just log into your account to initiate the two-factor authentication process. If not, please call the CollegeAdvantage toll-free number — 1-800-AFFORD-IT (1-800-233-6734) — before logging in. Our team members will be glad to help update your account profile once you complete a verification process.

    How To Get Started
    Once your phone number is current, you need to take two steps to verify your identity. The first step will be to log in as normal with the account number and password from a secure device, which may include your computer, tablet, or phone. This first step would be possession – something you have. The second step will occur when you enter the PIN. This second step is knowledge – something the account owner alone would know.

    At this point, you will select how to receive the PIN (Personal Identification Number) – either by text, by phone, or by calling our Customer Service Department. Upon receipt of the PIN, you will have five minutes to enter the code. Once you’ve entered the PIN from your computer or other secure device, there’s an option to mark the device as trusted. In order to keep the account secure, this process will be repeated during the life of the account depending on the frequency that you log-in, if you marked your computer/device as trusted, and if you clear the device’s cache. Again, this is an extra layer of security to protect your college savings.

    Have more questions? Find answers on this Two-Factor FAQ page or call our Customer Service Department from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST Monday-Friday at 1-800-AFFORD-IT (1-800-233-6734). Additionally, when you log into your Direct 529 Plan account, there is a video for you to watch, describing the steps involved with the two-factor authentication.

    CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

  • Score A College Savings Goal with Crew SC and CollegeAdvantage

    by Amy Lyle | Sep 19, 2017

    CollegeAdvantage is proud to partner with Columbus Crew SC for the 2017 Starting 11 Sweepstakes!

    The grand-prize winner will receive $529 college savings award and a marquee Crew SC prize pack which includes a customized Crew SC jersey, a personalized Crew SC prize pack VIP tickets to the Crew SC home match on Saturday, Sept. 30! Use the college savings award to start your 529 college savings account or score a goal for an already established 529 plan.

    The ten runners-up will receive Crew SC prizes including one autographed item and tickets to the Crew SC home match, Saturday, Sept. 30.

    To enter to win, visit our giveaway on Facebook. You can enter once per day, per e-mail address. Here are the complete sweepstakes rules. This sweepstake will end at 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24.

    Don’t wait to enter! There won’t be extra time to score this goal for your college savings!

  • Ohio’s 529 Plan Is Your Solution To Student Loan Debt

    by Amy Lyle | Sep 13, 2017

    While driving, have you seen the bumper sticker that proclaims, “My kid and my money to go (insert the name of school here)?” Does it make you smile or does it make your heart beat a little quicker? Whether college is right around the corner or you’re still dealing with diapers, Ohio’s 529 Plan — CollegeAdvantage — is here to help you save for your child’s future college costs.

    “The credit card debt in the US has reached $1 trillion whereas the student loan debt stands at $1.4 trillion and growing.  This is alarming and action must be taken to reverse the direction of student loan debt,” said Tim Gorrell, executive director of Ohio’s 529 Plan. “Planning for whatever comes after high school - college, trade school, technical school, etc. - and participating in a sound savings and investment plan will make these goals a reality. Going into a new career debt free should be the norm as opposed to entering the workforce with years of debt repayment ahead.”   

    Ohio’s 529 Plan is your solution to student loan debt. The recent news about Ohio’s student loan indebtedness may be disconcerting but forward-thinking parents can make college doable with Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage. Here’s how:

    529 Plan Tax Benefits

    529 accounts are tax-advantaged college savings plans. What are these tax benefits?

    1. Tax-free earnings. A regular savings account will have taxes assessed yearly but a 529 investment plan grows tax-free at the federal and state level. To see how tax-free growth adds up with a 529 savings plan, use the tax benefit tool to show the savings in taxes between a 529 to a taxable account. Unlike a taxable account, a CollegeAdvantage 529 plan ensures that every bit of investment growth is yours to use, tax-free. 
    2. Tax-free withdrawals. Funds withdrawn from 529 plans are tax free when used for qualified higher education expenses. What are these expenses? Costs that are necessary for enrollment or attendance at an eligible education institution like: tuition, mandatory fees, computer equipment and related technology and services, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance; room and board costs or off-campus housing during any academic period in which the beneficiary is enrolled at least half-time; and certain expenses for a special-needs student.
    3. State income tax deduction for contributions to Ohio’s 529 Plan. As a resident of Ohio, you can currently deduct 529 contributions up to $2,000 per beneficiary, per year from your state income tax. However, with unlimited carry forward you can continue to deduct a large 529 plan contribution from your state income tax until all of it has been deducted. For instance, if you contribute $10,000 to your beneficiary’s account, you can deduct $2,000 from your state income tax for the next five years.

    Many 529 Investment Options

    The CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan offers a variety of investment options. Before creating your asset allocation strategy, fill out the online risk tolerance questionnaire to determine your investment profile. You can also use our tools and calculators to determine your savings goals. After reviewing this information, you can start to build a 529 investment portfolio that best fits your family’s needs. The CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan offers ready-made, age-based or ready-made, risk-based portfolios; individual investment vehicles; and FDIC-insured banking options. Ohio’s Direct 529 plan has partnered with leading investment managers VanguardDimensional Fund Advisors, and Fifth Third Bank to provide these 529 investment options. Fifth Third recently increased the annual percentage yield on two terms of the 529 Certificates of Deposits (CDs) offered through Ohio’s 529 Plan.

    Long-Term 529 Investment Performance

    A crucial component for growth in a 529 college savings account is its long-term investment performance. Saving​for​college.com provides research on 529 plans, financial aid, and scholarships as well as analyzes and rank the performance of the nation’s 529 plans on a quarterly basis. Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, consistently receives high marks for its long-term investment performance.

    As of ​June 3​0, 2017, CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan is again ranked first across the nation for the best performance in five-year category. The Direct Plan ranked fourth overall in the nation in the three-year performance. In the ten-year performance category, the Direct Plan ​is now ranked second across the nation.

    Morningstar also highly regards CollegeAdvantage, giving Ohio’s 529 Direct Plan a silver ranking in 2016, making it one of the top 13 529 plans out of 63 reviewed. According to their analyst’s report, “Thanks to low fees and an impressive investment lineup, Ohio's direct-sold CollegeAdvantage plan remains a top choice for residents and nonresidents alike.” Additionally, the report states, “Results generally look attractive, with the majority of plan options earning 4 or 5 star ratings. Tax benefits create further incentive for Ohioans, as contributors can deduct up to $2,000 per beneficiary from their taxable income. The plethora of options may also appeal to out of state do-it-yourselfers.”

    The Gift That Keeps On Giving – Compound Interest

    It’s never too late or too early to save for your child’s future college costs. However, if you set aside college savings in a 529 plan early in your child’s life, the 529 account will benefit from compound interest through investing over the years. Compound interest is a saving powerhouse as it is the “interest computed on the sum of an original principal and accrued interest,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 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; yet, compound interest with student loans is a huge disadvantage. This is why 529 plans are a great alternative to student loan debt, which currently stands at $1.3 trillion held by 44 million borrowers in America. Saving now for post-secondary education or training is far cheaper than paying off student loans debt later in life.

    Ohio’s 529 Plan Can Be Used Nationwide

    Saving for college in Ohio’s 529 Plan does not mean your child is limited to only attending Ohio schools. 529 plans can be used nationwide (and even overseas) at any accredited two-year, four-year, graduate or professional, or any other post-secondary schools that accepts federal financial aid.

    Get To Know Ohio’s 529 Plan

    For more than 25 years, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority (OTTA) has been helping families save for college. OTTA is the state agency that sponsors Ohio’s 529 program, CollegeAdvantage. Currently, Ohio’s 529 Plan is the sixth largest college savings program in the nation. With assets under management valued over is $10.7 billion, Ohio’s 529 Plan has been entrusted with 630,000 college savings accounts.

    No matter the age of your child, CollegeAdvantage is how forward-thinking parents make college doable. Use our online tools and calculators to build the 529 plan that suits your family’s needs. Start your tax-advantaged college savings plan today at CollegeAdvantage.com. And remember, Ohio’s 529 Plan is the solution to student loan debt. 

  • Ohio’s 529 Plan Remains First In Nation For Five-Year Performance

    by Amy Lyle | Sep 12, 2017

    Long-term investment performance is a key growth factor in a 529 college savings plan. Savingforcollege.com, a trusted college-savings industry resource, provides research on 529 plans, financial aid, scholarships, and tools to estimate college expenses. Savingforcollege.com also analyzes the performance of the nation’s 529 plans on a quarterly basis and ranks them based on that performance. Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, consistently received high ranks for its long-term investment performance.

    As of June 30, 2017, CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan retained first place nationwide for the best performance in five-year category. The Direct 529 Plan ranked fourth overall in the nation in the three-year performance category. In the ten-year performance category, the Direct 529 Plan moved up one position to second overall.

    The performance score is determined 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.

    Long-term investment performance is a crucial component in building a 529 account. Other key elements that contribute to a 529 plan’s growth are 529 tax advantages, regular contributions, and compounded interest.

    529 plan tax advantages

    CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Savings Program, helps families across the nation save money for their children’s future college, trade, or technical school costs with tax-advantaged benefits. First, all contributions and earnings grow tax-free in a 529 plan. This means that all investment growth is yours to use to cover college costs. Second, a 529 withdrawal is tax free when used to pay qualified higher education expenses, those costs that are mandatory to attend the school. Third, a CollegeAdvantage account owner who is an Ohio resident can deduct their 529 contributions from their Ohio taxable income. Currently, the amount is up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap. If an Ohio taxpayer contributes $10,000 in one tax year, they will continue to subtract $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, from their state taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.

    By the way, saving for college in Ohio’s 529 plan does not mean that those funds can only be used in Ohio. 529 plans can be used nationwide at any accredited two-year, four-year, graduate or professional, or any other post-secondary schools that accepts federal financial aid.

    Automatic 529 account contributions

    Study after study proves that automatic recurring contributions are one of the easiest ways to save for college. The funds are regularly invested in the 529 plan before there is a chance to spend it elsewhere. Automated 529 plan deposits can be aligned with paydays or a monthly contribution schedule. Just log in to your 529 account and select “Automatic Investments” from the Asset Management menu to schedule recurring contributions. Even small investments can add up to big savings over time through regular automatic contributions or payroll deduction.

    529 plan growth through compound interest

    It’s never too late or too early to start saving for your child’s future college costs. The earlier a 529 account is established, the longer it can build with compound interest. Compound interest is a saving powerhouse as it is the “interest computed on the sum of an original principal and accrued interest,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. For 529 college savings plans, compound interest is based on contributions, earnings, and interest which accumulated in the account.

    Compound interest in a 529 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 alternative to student loan debt, which currently stands at $1.4 trillion held by 44 million borrowers in America. Saving now for post-secondary education or training is far cheaper than paying off student loans debt later in life.

    Ohio’s 529Plan, CollegeAdvantage, is proud to receive these rankings from Savingforcollege.com. The CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan has a variety of investment options — from ready-made, age-based or ready-made, risk-based portfolios; individual investment vehicles to build your personalized portfolio, and FDIC-insured banking options. We’ve partnered with leading investment managers VanguardDimensional Fund Advisors, and Fifth Third Bank to provide these 529 plan investment options.

    To help you build the 529 account that best fits your family’s college savings goals, Ohio’s 529 Plan offers calculators and tools. The college savings planner can assess the projected college costs and provide you an estimated monthly saving goal to be placed in a 529 plan. The cost of waiting tool can show approximately how much more money may be needed if you don’t start soon. The tax benefit tool shows the long-term advantages of tax-free growth in a 529 plan compared to a taxable savings account.

    CollegeAdvantage also provides 529 account strategies that are shaped by your child’s life stage. When a child is a baby to toddler, it is a fantastic time to start saving for future college expenses to take advantage of compound interest. During kindergarten through elementary school, disappearing expenses like day care costs can be shifted to fund the 529 account so you’re still supporting your child’s education. When your child enters middle school and high school, you may need to step up your college savings. Even if your child is getting to start or has even started college, the tax-free earnings, tax-free withdrawals, and the state tax deduction for Ohioans can still build up the 529 account.

    Open an Ohio 529 plan to save for your child’s future training and education. An investment in a 529 plan is an investment in your child. 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.

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