• Fifth Third Welcomes The New Year With New Ohio 529 Plan CD Rates

    by Ben Gibbons | Jan 11, 2018
    cd-apys-as-of-12-2017-chart

    Beginning Thursday, Jan. 11, 201​​8,Fifth Third Bank, an investment option partner with Ohio’s 529 Plan, is increasing the rates on four different terms of 529 Certificates of Deposit (CDs).

    The rate for the 12-23 Month 529 CD will increase from 1.00% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) to 1.25% APY, and the 24 - 35 Month 529 CD will increase from 1.45% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) to 1.55% APY. The APY for the 36 – 47 Month CD will rise to 1.65%. The increased rate for the 48-59 Month CD is now 1.75%.

    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. 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.

  • Ohio’s 529 Plan Office Closed For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

    by Amy Lyle | Jan 08, 2018

    The office of Ohio’s 529 plan — CollegeAdvantage — will be closed on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

    Our Customer Service department (1-800-AFFORD-IT) will also be closed on this day. Customer Service is available to assist you on regular business days from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET before or after a specific holiday. Please be aware that you may transact business online as usual. To make a contribution, you can access your account online 24/7.

    The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. Any transaction requested on a holiday, weekend, or after the NYSE closes will be processed on the next business day.

    If you’re interested in how the State of Ohio is commemorating Dr. King and the holiday, read more here. Here’s a list of events celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. around CincinnatiCleveland, ColumbusDaytonnortheast Ohio, and Toledo.

    The King Arts Complex in Columbus will celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by hosting a breakfast and an open house, which includes art activities, musical and theatrical performances, and the opportunity to learn more about the Civil Right Movement. Ohio History Center will honor Dr. King with discussions on Poindexter Village and on housing rights given by the ACLU of Ohio.

  • State Income Tax Deduction Doubles To $4,000

    by Amy Lyle | Jan 01, 2018

    Saving for college in a 529 plan has many benefits; ranging from the power of compound interest, a wide variety of investment options, tax-free earnings, and tax-free withdrawals. For Ohioans saving with Ohio’s 529 Plan, there’s also a deduction from their state taxable income for contributions made to CollegeAdvantage. Since 2000, the yearly deduction has been set at a maximum of $2,000 per account but the New Year brings a big change to this Ohio tax deduction.

    State Tax Deduction Doubles

    Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the state income tax deduction for contributions made to a CollegeAdvantage 529 plan doubles from $2,000 to $4,000 per beneficiary, per year. This increase heightens the advantages of saving for college costs in Ohio’s 529 Plan.

    When the State of Ohio’s biennial budget was passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Kasich, it included this expanded tax benefit for CollegeAdvantage current and future account owners residing in Ohio.

    Keep in mind that as with the old deduction amount, the $4,000 deduction limit is not a contribution cap. For Ohioans who contribute over $4,000 per account, per year, they can carry forward this deduction to their Ohio adjusted gross income for subsequent tax years until all of their contributions are fully deducted.

    To further explain the unlimited carry forward of the state income tax deduction, let’s use two examples. An Ohio taxpayer contributes $4,000 to two 529 accounts for each of her two children, for a total of $8,000. She could deduct a total of $8,000 from her Ohio taxable income for the year. Or, if an Ohio taxpayer contributed $8,000 to a CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan Account for one child in one year, he could deduct $4,000 from his Ohio taxable income during the current year, and also the next year.

    Account Limit For Contributions Increases

    The Account Limit for Contributions is limit for total value of all CollegeAdvantage Program accounts for a single beneficiary. Once this amount is reached, no additional contributions may be made to any account for this beneficiary in any plan within the CollegeAdvantage. The limit now stands at $462,000. This limit is calculated based on the sum of the current average cost of tuition and current average cost of room and board needed for seven years at the five U. S. highest-cost eligible educational institutions. This amount is adjusted annually to take into estimated future inflation and estimated account earnings.

    Annual Gift Tax Exclusion Rises

    Contributions to a CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan Account are generally considered completed gifts for federal tax purposes. There are no federal gift tax consequences under a certain dollar amount. On Jan. 1, 2018, the IRS raised the annual gift exclusion amount to $15,000. With this increase, a contributor may elect to treat up to $75,000 of the contributions ($150,000 for married couple) as having been made ratably over a five-year period.

    Would you like to see how? Use our tools and calculators to: set your college savings goals; see the benefits of saving in a 529 plan when compared to a taxable savings account; and review how saving early as possible promotes growth in the account. Ready to open an account with Ohio’s 529 plan? Visit CollegeAdvantage online to start saving for future college expenses today. Remember, every dollar saved today is a dollar that doesn’t have to be borrowed which makes Ohio’s 529 college savings plan an excellent alternative to student loan debt.  Ohio’s 529 Plan — CollegeAdvantage — helps you with saving for college and with saving on your taxes.

  • Deadline For 2017 Ohio’s 529 Plan Contributions Is 4 p.m. Dec. 29

    by Amy Lyle | Dec 28, 2017

    As the whirlwind of the holidays takes you to the end of the year, don’t forget to make your end-of-year contribution to CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Plan.

    There are tax benefits for saving for college in a CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan: tax-free earning so you can use all the funds accumulated in your account; tax-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses; and Ohioans can deduct up to $2,000 per person (or married couple) of your 529 plan contributions, per beneficiary, per calendar year, from your state taxable income.

    However, you can always contribute even more! Contributions over $2,000 per beneficiary, per calendar year, may be carried forward to deduct from future tax years until all of your contributions are fully deducted. Please keep in mind that for the state tax deduction, you will need to have copies of your bank statements or cashed checks to show for verification. Statements from CollegeAdvantage are not acceptable as they contain contributions from all sources, not just the account owner.

    Your new 529 contributions must be received in good order before 4 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, to be included in this year’s total.

    If you’ve asked loved ones to give a gift towards a college education by contributing to your child’s Ohio’s 529 Plan, then if they are Ohioans, they are also eligible to deduct their gift contribution from their state taxable income. If your family members are able to give significantly, they can invest up to $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples) per beneficiary without incurring any federal gift-tax consequences. They can even contribute up to $70,000 per beneficiary in a single year ($140,000 for married couples) and take advantage of five years’ worth of tax-free gifts at one time. For more information, have them consult their tax adviser or estate-planning attorney.

    College may be far away but the Ohio tax deadline is not. Explore the simple, tax-free way to save for college, nationwide. And remember: Dec. 29, 2017, is the last day to give the gift of college savings through CollegeAdvantage.

  • Happy New Year from Ohio’s 529 Plan!

    by Amy Lyle | Dec 26, 2017

    The office of Ohio’s 529 plan — CollegeAdvantage — will be closed on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in observance of the New Year's Day. Our Customer Service department (1-800-AFFORD-IT) will also be closed.

    Online and paper contributions must be received by CollegeAdvantage in good order before 4 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, in order to be recorded as occurring in 2017.

    Our 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 the specific holidays. Please be aware that you may transact business online as usual. To make a last-minute holiday gift or year-end contribution, you can access your account online 24/7.

    Please note that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. Any transaction requested on a holiday, weekend, or after the NYSE closes will be processed on the next business day.

    During any holiday down time, you may want to review your CollegeAdvantage 529 plan to ensure you are taking full advantage of all the tax benefits — including an up to $2,000 deduction from Ohio taxable income. Again, your 529 contributions must be received before 4 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 30, 2017, to be included in this year’s total.

    As an Ohio resident, you can deduct up to $2,000 per person (or married couple) of your 529 plan contributions, per beneficiary, per calendar year, from your state taxable income. However, you can always contribute even more! Contributions over $2,000 per beneficiary, per calendar year, may be carried forward to deduct from future tax years until all of your contributions are fully deducted. Please keep in mind that for the state tax deduction, you will need to have copies of your bank statements or cashed checks to show for verification. Statements from CollegeAdvantage are not acceptable as they contain contributions from all sources, not just the account owner.

    We hope that you and your loved ones have a wonderful time celebrating the New Year together.

  • Ohio's 529 Plan Contribution Deadline Nears For 2017 State Tax Deduction

    by Amy Lyle | Dec 22, 2017

    With the end of year approaching, Ohioans have until 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2017, to give the gift of college savings by making a final contribution to Ohio’s 529 Plan for this calendar year. Ohioans who enroll and contribute to each CollegeAdvantage account between now and 4 p.m. ET Dec. 29, 2017, can still take advantage of the $2,000 annual deduction to their State of Ohio taxable income.

    All taxpayers in Ohio are eligible – this includes parents, grandparents, family members and friends – to contribute directly to a CollegeAdvantage 529 savings plan and give the gift of college savings. Each contributor, or married couple, may claim a deduction of up to $2,000 for each beneficiary, per beneficiary, on their Ohio taxable income. While $2,000 is the maximum deduction per year, it is not the maximum contribution. The State of Ohio has an unlimited carry forward which means if you contribute more than $2,000 this calendar year, you may continue your deductions into following years. Contributions for each beneficiary must be received, in good order, no later than 4 p.m. ET on Dec. 29, 2017, to receive this maximum deduction.

    Families interested in giving the gift of college savings this holiday season may open an account with as little as $25 online at CollegeAdvantage.com to start saving for future college expenses. "Giving the gift of college savings is a thoughtful way to offset the growing costs of higher education and one that will be appreciated for years to come," said Tim Gorrell, executive director of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority.

    Any funds saved through CollegeAdvantage can be used at any accredited college in the U.S. to pay tuition, fees, books, room and board and for any electronic equipment required. CollegeAdvantage provides tax advantages to help families save more for college. CollegeAdvantage account owners pay no taxes on account earnings and withdrawals used for qualified higher education expenses are exempt from both federal and state taxes.

    About CollegeAdvantage
    CollegeAdvantage is Ohio's 529 college savings program, offered and administered by the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, an office within the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Ohio is the sixth largest state-sponsored 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 nearly $10.9 billion in assets under management and over 633,000 total accounts as of Sept. 30, 2017. To learn more, visit CollegeAdvantage.com.

  • Steps To Simplify Your Guaranteed Plan Withdrawal

    by Amy Lyle | Dec 20, 2017

    As the holidays ​approach, your family needs to prepare for the New Year and the next ​semester. You saved for ​your child's college costs in a CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed 529 Plan* and now it’s time to make withdrawals to pay their qualified higher education expenses.

    Effective July 28, 2017, the payout rates** for the CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed 529 Savings Plan are:

    Tuition Unit: $102.96

    Tuition Credit: $118.40

    With the new WAT payout rate released, you can now arrange for a withdrawal from your Guaranteed account. There are several ways to pay for your child’s college costs.

    Update bank information

    First, you must login in your 529 plan to update your bank account information if you have changed financial institutions. For security reasons, the bank account information must be on file for 15 business days before a withdrawal will be processed. This is a one-time waiting period, unless you change your banking information again. If you need help logging into your account, please 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) or email CustomerService@CollegeAdvantage.com. CollegeAdvantage is not responsible for any late fees charged by the school, so please plan ahead.

    Online withdrawal and online payment

    Once you’ve verified that your bank account information is current, you can request a withdrawal online. This will be the quickest process to withdrawal funds from your Guaranteed 529 Plan.

    As you apply for a withdrawal online, you can choose to have the funds sent to the eligible higher education institution, you bank account, or the beneficiary’s bank account. Withdrawals requested before 4 p.m. EST Monday-Friday will be processed in three business days. If you choose to have the withdrawn funds to be sent to a bank account, it may take additional time for the bank to show the 529 withdrawal as deposited.

    Opting to have the withdrawal directly sent to the school is another option for your withdrawal. Make sure to provide the beneficiary’s name, correct student ID number and the correct school address on the withdrawal form. CollegeAdvantage does not provide school addresses unless the school has been utilized previously for a withdrawal payment.

    If you chose to have the 529 funds deposited to your or your beneficiary’s bank account, the second quickest method is to pay through the college’s online portal. Make sure you have the correct student ID number. Processing times will vary by school; ask the bursar’s or financial aid office what a good time would be to start the withdrawal process so you can avoid late penalties.

    Online withdrawals are not permitted for a withdrawal quest for $10,000 or more, or if the account is a pre-1996 contract. In these cases, you will need to print and fill out the withdrawal form. This form must be notarized before it’s sent to the mailing address on the form. For more information, please review the plan description of CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed Saving Plan.

    Online withdrawal and paper check delivery

    You can choose to make an online withdrawal request but then opt to have CollegeAdvantage mail the payment directly to you to deposit the funds into your or the beneficiary’s bank account or mail the check to the higher education institution. As this method is dependent on the United States Postal Service’s delivery schedule and the school’s processing procedures, it will be a slower process. When making the withdrawal, you must provide the correct school address to where the check should be sent as well as the beneficiary’s name and school ID number. CollegeAdvantage does not provide school addresses.

    If you selected to have the 529 withdrawal electronically deposited into your or the beneficiary’s bank account, you can mail your personal check to the post-secondary education institute with the correct student ID on it.

    Paper withdrawal form and paper check delivery

    You can also complete your withdrawal, whether payable to you, the beneficiary or the school, by printing the Withdrawal Request Form. You have the ability to fill out the form on screen then print it. Once completed, you then mail the form to the listed address and then have the withdrawal mailed to you or the school. This form, as well as other forms for the CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed 529 Savings Plan, can be found here.

    This is the slowest withdrawal and payment method. Please keep in mind that mail delivery — to CollegeAdvantage, then to bank accounts and/or to the school — will increase the processing times at each one of this institutions. Therefore, check with the school’s bursar office to find out how long they need to process a mailed check so you can avoid late penalties.

    The most important step is to prepar​e now for upcoming 529 withdrawals. If necessary, update your bank information on your CollegeAdvantage account and find out how much time the school needs to process your payment. These simple steps will expedite the withdrawal so you can pay your child’s college costs on time. If you have any further questions, our Customer Service Department is available to help from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST Monday-Friday at 1-800-AFFORD-IT (1-800-233-6734).

    * This college savings plan has been closed to new enrollments and new investments since Dec. 31, 2003.

    ** Withdrawal values are calculated according to Ohio Administrative Code and may change at any time and without notice.

    Please note that WAT payout rate are subject to change once each of the Four-Year State Universities listed in ORC Section 3345.011, (which are University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, Central State University, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Miami University, Ohio University, Ohio State University, Shawnee State University, University of Toledo, Wright State University, and Youngstown State University) have released their annual undergraduate tuition rates. 

  • Happy Holidays from Ohio’s 529 Plan!

    by Amy Lyle | Dec 18, 2017

    The office of Ohio’s 529 plan — CollegeAdvantage — will be closed on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, and Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in observance of the holidays. Our Customer Service department (1-800-AFFORD-IT) will also be closed on these days.

    Our 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 the specific holidays. Please be aware that you may transact business online as usual. To make a last-minute holiday gift or year-end contribution, you can access your account online 24/7.

    Online and paper contributions must be received by CollegeAdvantage in good order before 4 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 29, in order to be recorded as occurring in 2017.

    The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will also be closed on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, and Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. Any transaction requested on a holiday, weekend, or after the NYSE closes will be processed on the next business day.

    During any holiday down time, you may want to review your CollegeAdvantage 529 plan to ensure you are taking full advantage of all the tax benefits — including an up to $2,000 deduction from your Ohio taxable income. If you’d like to add to your account, your new 529 contributions must be received in good order before 4 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, to be included in this year’s total.

    As an Ohio resident, you can deduct up to $2,000 per person (or married couple) of your 529 plan contributions, per beneficiary, per calendar year, from your state taxable income. However, you can always contribute even more! Contributions over $2,000 per beneficiary, per calendar year, may be carried forward to deduct from future tax years until all of your contributions are fully deducted. Please keep in mind that for the state tax deduction, you will need to have copies of your bank statements or cashed checks to show for verification. Statements from CollegeAdvantage are not acceptable as they contain contributions from all sources, not just the account owner.

    We hope your and your loved ones’ holidays are merry and bright!

  • Bengals Kickoff College Savings Giveaway Winners Announced!

    by Amy Lyle | Dec 15, 2017

    CollegeAdvantage's annual Kickoff College Savings Giveaway with the Cincinnati Bengals ended recently. This giveaway ran from Sept. 6 to Nov. 26, 2017. During that time, we received almost 24,000 entries!

    Our grand prize winner, Brittany Phillips, won the $10,000 college savings award! Brittany was presented the award Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, at the 50-yard line of Paul Brown Stadium, before the Bengals game against the Chicago Bears. She plans to use her college savings award to add to her two daughters’ 529 accounts.

    The second-place winner, Chris Berndt, is the lucky winner of a visit from a Bengals team member to a local school.

    Our runners-up will receive autographed Bengals memorabilia and other prizes from the Bengals.

    Here’s the list of the 15 lucky people who were randomly selected as winners:

    Grand prize winner: Brittany Phillips, Columbus, OH

    Second place winner: Chris Berndt, West Chester, OH

    Runners-Up: Autographed Bengals Memorabilia and other Bengals prizes*

    • Shelly Conley, Cincinnati, OH
    • Monae Heath, Trotwood, OH
    • Whitney Cockrell, Fort Mitchell, KY
    • Rae Fellows, Columbus, OH
    • Jason Bowman, Pensacola, FL
    • Donna Spitler, Findlay, OH
    • Jennifer Alber Vales, Chicago, IL
    • Elisa Rheinscheld, Columbus, OH
    • Susan Kiss, Willoughby, OH
    • David Beckwith, Delaware, OH
    • Jake Omaits, Jewett, OH
    • Dawn Sullivan, Cincinnati, OH
    • Ann Holdheide, St. Henry, OH

     * Please note that the list of winners is subject to change.

  • Ask For Gifts For Your Child’s College Education

    by Amy Lyle | Dec 12, 2017

    Why is it so hard to start the conversation about a college fund? Parents tell us they would love for the family to help. Grandparents say they’re waiting for their kids to ask. Extended family and friends have no idea what to do or how to do it. Somebody needs to take the reins here, and like most important things, it probably needs to be the family leader. You!

    Loved ones want to present gifts with value. Let them know your children don’t need any more toys, but a contribution towards their education fund will have a lasting impact. Share that a college education or post-secondary vocational training can bring your children more opportunities in life.

    First Step – Open An Ohio’s 529 Plan

    Once you’ve opened a CollegeAdvantage 529 account, talk to your loved ones about your decision to save for your child’s college costs as means to fulfill your dreams for their future. Then ask if they would like to come along side you to support this dream. They don’t have to give big to add to Ohio’s 529 plan. Contributions start as low as $25 (a Fifth Third Certificate of Deposit requires a $500 minimum contribution) so they have flexibility in the amount they wish to contribute. If they so desire, they can also set up an automatic monthly amount to be transferred into the 529 account to provide ongoing support for your child’s college education plans.

    Tax Benefits for Ohio Gift Givers To CollegeAdvantage

    There are tax benefits for saving for college in CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Plan such as tax-free earnings and tax-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses. Also, Ohio residents are eligible to deduct up to $2,000 of their 529 plan contributions per beneficiary, per year, from their state taxable income. However, they can contribute even more! Contributions over $2,000 per beneficiary, per year, can be carried forward to deduct from future tax years until all of their contributions are fully subtracted from their state taxable income. For contributions to be considered received for 2017, have them in good order with CollegeAdvantage before 4 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017.

    How Can They Make Their Contribution?

    Gift givers have a variety of means to contribute to a 529 college savings plan. The simplest way is through Ugift  As the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account owner, you can log in to your account and click on Ugift to receive a unique code for each of your beneficiaries. This code permits others to make online contributions to your CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan account without needing the actual account number or your child’s Social Security number. Once you share the code, friends and family can visit Ugift529.com​ to make their electronic contribution securely from their bank account. The code will last so loved ones can continue to contribute to the same beneficiary at any time they’d wish.

    If the gift giver prefers to write a check, make sure it’s payable to Ohio Tuition Trust Authority and includes the 11-digit account number. You will then mail it in with this form.

    If you or another family member would like to make a substantial 529 plan contribution, you can invest up to $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples) per beneficiary without incurring any federal gift-tax consequences. You can even contribute up to $70,000 per beneficiary in a single year ($140,000 for married couples) and take advantage of five years’ worth of tax-free gifts at one time. For more information, please consult your tax adviser or estate-planning attorney.

    Another way to contribute to a CollegeAdvantage 529 account is through gift cards from Gift of College, which can be found at Toy R Us and Babies R Us stores.

    Again, share with your loved ones that any Ohioan who donates directly to a CollegeAdvantage 529 account is eligible to deduct the contribution from their Ohio state taxable income. The deadline for having contributions received in good order by with CollegeAdvantage is before 4 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017.

    So take a deep breath and guide the gift conversation to your child’s CollegeAdvantage 529 college savings plan. Loved ones want to support your child now and in the future. Their gift contribution to a college savings account can do just that.

  • Simplify Your 529 Withdrawal Process

    by Amy Lyle | Dec 08, 2017

    NOTE: This is the process for CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan accounts only. The process is different for Guaranteed Plan accounts. Here is guidance for withdrawals from the Guaranteed Plan.

    The New Year and the new ​​semester is quickly approaching. By taking simple steps now, you can streamline your CollegeAdvantage 529 plan withdrawal process to pay for your child’s qualified higher education expenses promptly.

    Log in to your Ohio’s 529 Plan account

    First, log in to your Ohio 529 Plan account. If you haven’t reviewed your account recently, you’ll need to follow the two-step authentication procedure. Implemented in June, this industry standard adds an extra layer of security to protect your important college savings account information from phishing and identity theft attacks. If you have further questions, please watch the video to the right of the login button, visit 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).  The two-step authentication process for online account access will become mandatory in late-August 2017.

    Update bank information

    Once you’ve accessed your account, confirm that your banking information is current. If it’s not, update it now. For security reasons, the bank account information must be on file for 15 business days before a withdrawal can be processed. This is a one-time waiting period, unless you change your banking information. To add your current bank account details, select your beneficiary’s account. Then look on the left side of the screen and choose “View Profile and Document.” From there, select bank information to update your records.

    Online withdrawal and online payment

    For the quickest turnaround time, request a 529 plan withdrawal online, with the withdrawal being sent electronically to you as the account owner, and follow it with an online payment to the school. This is the fastest and most accurate method of paying a higher education institution.

    Once an online 529 withdrawal is requested, you can choose to have the funds sent directly to the post-secondary education institute, your bank account, or to the account beneficiary’s bank account. Withdrawals requested before 4 p.m. EST on business days will be processed in three business days. If you opted to have the withdrawn funds to be sent to your, or the beneficiary’s, bank account, it may take additional time for the bank to show the 529 withdrawal as deposited.

    If you elected for the withdrawal to go directly to the school, make sure to provide the correct student ID number and the correct school address on the withdrawal form. CollegeAdvantage does not provide school addresses.

    If you chose to have the 529 funds deposited to your or your beneficiary’s bank account, use the college’s online portal to pay your child’s college costs. Make sure you have the correct student ID number. Processing times will vary by school; ask the bursar’s office what a good time period would be to start the withdrawal process so you can avoid late penalties.

    Online withdrawal and paper check delivery

    Again, make your withdrawal request online. You can opt to have CollegeAdvantage mail the payment directly to the school. Depending on the United States Postal Service’s delivery schedule and the school’s processing procedures, this may be a slower process. You must provide the correct school address to where the check should be sent as well as the student’s school ID number. Please note, CollegeAdvantage does not provide school addresses.

    Of course, if you selected to have the 529 withdrawal deposited into your or the beneficiary’s bank account, you can mail your personal check to the post-secondary education institute with the correct student ID on it.

     

    Paper withdrawal and paper check delivery

    If you prefer to use a paper form, CollegeAdvantage offers a Withdrawal Request Form. This is the slowest withdrawal and payment method. In order to save time, fill in the withdrawal request form online; although you can also print, fill out, and mail in the form.

    The withdrawal can be sent by a mailed check to the school. To have the payment sent directly to the school, review the “Paper Check Delivery to the School” information to fill in section 3C of the Withdrawal Request Form.

    You also have the option to have the withdrawn funds be electronically deposited into yours or the beneficiary’s bank account. There’s also the option to have the withdrawal check mailed you or the beneficiary. After the withdrawal is in your or the beneficiary’s account, you can directly pay the school.

    The most important move for you to make this summer is to prepare now for upcoming 529 withdrawals. If necessary, update your bank information on your CollegeAdvantage accounts and find out how much time the school needs to process your payment. These simple steps will expedite the withdrawal so you can pay your child’s college costs on time. If you have any further questions, our Customer Service Department is available to help from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST Monday-Friday at 1-800-AFFORD-IT (1-800-233-6734).

  • It’s Never Too Late To Save In A 529, Even During High School

    by Amy Lyle | Dec 01, 2017

    You know the saying, “It’s never too late…” Well, it’s never too late to save for your child’s college education in a 529 plan, even if it’s their senior year of high school. Why? 529 plans offer many benefits to enhance the growth of funds placed aside for future college costs.

    529 Plan Tax Benefits

    The first benefit is tax-free earnings. If you are saving for college in a regular saving account, then you’re doing a good thing to  support your child’s future. However, you’re missing the advantage of the tax-free earnings available with a CollegeAdvantage 529 plan. Earnings on a regular savings account will be taxed yearly but 529 investments grow tax-free at the federal and state level, ensuring that every dollar of growth is yours to use. Check out our online tax benefit tool at CollegeAdvantage.com to see the savings.

    The second tax benefit is tax-free withdrawals for qualified expenses, those costs that are required to attend a two-year or four-year college as well as a vocation school. These costs include tuition; room and board while the 529 beneficiary is enrolled for at least half of a full-time academic workload; 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 educational institution.

    The third tax benefit of opening a 529 account is that Ohio residents receive a $2,000 deduction from their state gross income for matching contributions made to a CollegeAdvantage 529 account. Those dollars saved in your savings account? As an Ohio resident you can use that money to open a CollegeAdvantage, and claim that $2,000 deduction. And, you can contribute even more! Contributions over $2,000 per beneficiary, per year, can be carried forward to deduct from future tax years until all of your contributions are fully subtracted from your state taxable income. In order for your 529 contributions to be included in your 2017 state income tax deduction, contributions need to be received in good order by CollegeAdvantage before 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 29.

    Ask For Gifts Towards A College Education

    During holidays, birthdays, your child’s high school graduation party, ask for gifts towards their college education. You can provide loved ones a Ugift code for your child’s account. This code permits others to make online contributions to your CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan account without needing the actual account number. Once you provide the Ugift code, friends and family can visit Ugift529.com​ to make their electronic contribution securely from their bank account.

    If the gift giver prefers to write a check, make sure it’s payable to Ohio Tuition Trust Authority and includes the 11-digit account number.

    If you or another family member would like to make a substantial 529 plan contribution, you can invest up to $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples) per beneficiary without incurring any federal gift-tax consequences. You can even contribute up to $70,000 per beneficiary in a single year ($140,000 for married couples) and take advantage of five years’ worth of tax-free gifts at one time. For more information, please consult your tax adviser or estate-planning attorney.

    Any Ohioan who donates to a CollegeAdvantage 529 account is eligible to deduct the contribution from their Ohio state taxable income.

    Shop With Upromise To Add To Your 529 Account

    After you’ve opened a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 account, you can continue to add to the plan with your everyday shopping by joining Upromise. Connected with hundreds of America’s leading companies, a free Upromise membership can earn you cash back from stores from which you normally shop, including over 850 online retail stores and over 20,000 grocery and drug stores.  

    When you connect your debit and/or credit card to Upromise, you’ll start to earn rewards with your everyday shopping. Once you reach a certain level of savings, you can then roll over these rebates to build up your CollegeAdvantage Direct 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.

    Online Tools And Life Stage Strategies

    CollegeAdvantage offers online tools to help you decide what saving strategy is the best fit for your family. The calculators include: College Savings Planner, Cost Of Waiting Tool, and Risk Tolerance Questionnaire. By working with these four tools, you can adjust the 529 account according to your college savings goals, time frame before college, and how comfortable you are with risk to determine the right asset allocation mix.

    Based on your child’s age, different 529 investment plan strategies should be considered. If they are close to needing the 529 account funds for college costs, you may want to adopt a more conservative asset allocation so the accrued funds aren’t susceptible to the volatility of the stock market.

    Ohio’s 529 Plan Can Be Used Across The Nation

    Your child may already know what school they’d like to attend. If they decide to go out of state, your college savings in Ohio’s 529 Plan can be used nationwide at any federally accredited educational institutions – whether for an associate, bachelor’s, graduate or vocational degree. So remember: just because you save in Ohio’s 529 plan does not mean your child can only attend a post-secondary education program in Ohio.

    Rolling Over Funds To A 529 Plan

    If you open an Ohio 529 Plan account with money transferred from another savings vehicle, please wait 4-7 business days before attempting to withdraw the newly deposited funds. This waiting period allows the money to clear the old account then to accumulate into the new 529 account. This time frame also holds true after you’ve made a 529 contribution: you’ll need to wait 4-7 business days before requesting the funds to pay for qualified college costs.

    Once this waiting period is over, you can make payments directly to the school from your 529 account via an online withdrawal process. Or you can reimburse yourself for qualified expenses that you’ve paid out of pocket.

    Even if you are getting late start with your college savings, CollegeAdvantage is how forward-thinking parents make college doable. Start your tax-advantaged college savings plan today at CollegeAdvantage.com. Ohio’s 529 Plan is an excellent alternative solution to student loan debt. Any funds you can set aside in a CollegeAdvantage account is money your child won’t have to borrow for their education. And that’s truly a gift. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. 

  • Give To A Loved One’s College Education This Giving Tuesday

    by Amy Lyle | Nov 28, 2017

    Ate all the leftovers from Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner? Check.

    Took advantage of the sales during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday? Check, check, and check.

    Participated in the global day of giving on Giving Tuesday? Che … wait, what?

    Held on Nov. 28, Giving Tuesday marks the start of the charity giving season which lasts through all the holiday celebrations. Giving Tuesday emphasizes meaningful offerings of your time, financial support, or talents for the benefit of others. It’s a day dedicated to giving back.

    Many great charity organizations are looking for a helping hand this holiday season as they, in turn, reach out to the less fortunate. Visit your favorite charities’ websites on Giving Tuesday to see how you can fulfill their biggest needs. Through early generous donations, some charities may even offer a match to your donation, stretching your dollars to help even more. If you’d like to investigate a charity, use websites like CharityNavigator, CharityWatch, and GuideStar that rate how effectively charity uses its donations. 

    Sometimes, charity begins at home. While you’re thinking where you’d like to help, consider giving towards a loved one’s CollegeAdvantage 529 college savings account — or starting an account. It’s truly a gift that has value and significance.

    What’s A 529 Plan?

    A 529 plan is a college savings account that grows tax free, and withdrawals taken for qualified higher education expenses are free from federal and state income tax. The money in Ohio’s 529 plan can be used nationwide at any federally accredited educational institutions – whether for an associate, bachelor’s, graduate or vocational degree.

    How Much Can I Contribute?

    You don’t have to give big to add to a CollegeAdvantage 529 plan. Contributions start as low as $25 (a Fifth Third Certificate of Deposit requires a $500 minimum contribution) so you have maximum flexibility in contributing the amount with which you are most comfortable. You can also set up an automatic monthly amount to be transferred into your loved one’s 529 account to show your continual support for their college education plans.

    How Can I Give A Gift Towards A College Education?

     If you aren’t a 529 account owner but would like to give the gift of college education to a loved one’s 529 account, there are a variety of ways to do so! You can open an account for the child. You can also ask the parents for a Ugift code for their child’s CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan account. The Ugift code permits you to make online contributions to a CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan account without needing the actual account number. Once you have the code, visit Ugift529.com to make your electronic contribution securely from your bank account. You can continue to use the same code to invest in your loved one’s college education throughout the years. It’s that easy. It’s also easy for the parents to request an Ugift code; they just need to log in to their account and click on Ugift.

    Are There Tax Advantages For Gift Givers?

    As an Ohio resident, you are eligible to deduct up to $2,000 of your 529 plan contributions per beneficiary, per year, from your state taxable income. However, you can contribute even more! Contributions over $2,000 per beneficiary, per year, can be carried forward to deduct from future tax years until all of your contributions are fully subtracted from your state taxable income. To make sure your contributions have been received for 2017, please be sure to have them in good standing with CollegeAdvantage before 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 29.

    If you are able and to want to frontload a loved one’s 529 plan, you can invest up to $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples) per beneficiary without incurring any federal gift-tax consequences. You can even contribute up to $70,000 per beneficiary in a single year ($140,000 for married couples) and take advantage of five years’ worth of tax-free gifts at one time. For more information, consult your tax adviser or estate-planning attorney.

    Celebrate the spirit of Giving Tuesday at any point this holiday season by contributing to a 529 account, or even start one for a loved one. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

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

    by Amy Lyle | Nov 27, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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
     
Back To Top