• Give The Littlest Grads The Gift Of College

    by Amy Lyle | May 26, 2017

    Pomp and Circumstance” swells as the sounds of rustling gowns and shuffling feet fill the air. The whole audience waits in eager anticipation with outstretched arms with cameras at the ready. Suddenly you see them, with tassels swaying on their paper plate “mortar boards,” crossing the stage to receive their mini diplomas. At the end of the ceremony, they are moving up to . . . kindergarten! Overwhelmed with pride, you think, “Wow, they are growing up so fast.” And then you realize, “Wow, they are growing up SO fast!”  

    They really do grow up in the blink of an eye. By starting early, a college savings fund can grow with them. It’s easy, too, with Ohio’s 529 plan, CollegeAdvantage.

    What’s A 529 plan?

    Established by the Internal Revenue Code 529 in 1996, 529 plans are the tax-advantaged way to save for college through tax- free earnings and tax-free withdrawals for 529 qualified higher education expenses. Additionally, Ohioans who save in CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 plan, can deduct 529 contributions up to $2,000 from their Ohio taxable income per beneficiary, per year. But they are allowed to contribute even more! Contributions over $2,000 per beneficiary, per year, may be carried forward to deduct from future tax years until all of your contributions are fully deducted. By planning ahead for future college costs, a 529 account can grow through power of compound interest, regular contributions from not only the account owner but also family and friends, as well as all the tax benefits.

    Ask Others For The Gift Of A College Education

    You probably weren’t alone as you watched your preschooler graduate. Family and friends will want to give meaningful gifts for this and other important milestones in your child’s life. You can invite them to contribute to your child’s CollegeAdvantage account instead of giving traditional gifts for graduations, birthdays, holidays, achievements, and other special occasions. And it’s easy to arrange. You just need to log in to your CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan and click on Ugift to request a unique code, which will authorize gift givers to donate directly to a 529 plan online without needing the actual 529 account number. Once a gift giver has the code, they can continue to make one-time or recurring electronic gifts for college without fees. If the gift giver is an Ohio taxpayer, they too can deduct their own contributions from their Ohio taxable income. Their gift contribution just needs to be made payable directly to the account, not to the child.

    Disappearing Expenses Can Become 529 Contributions

    Also, with your child starting kindergarten this fall, you can add the money from disappearing preschool expenses to your child’s CollegeAdvantage account. Disappearing expenses are those costs that are in your budget for a limited time span. And daycare/preschool is one of the largest disappearing expenses for families as their children grow. Once your child enters kindergarten, consider turning those dollars into regular contributions to your CollegeAdvantage 529 account. You won’t miss it and you will be continuing to support your child’s educational needs.

    Age-Based 529 Investment Strategies

    Also, take the opportunity to review your child’s time horizon to college and determine if some modifications need to be made to the 529 college savings plan. If your child just started kindergarten, you have more time to save even more as well as benefit from the power of compound interest. If your child is in middle or high school, you may want to accelerate your college savings. CollegeAdvantage also offers ready-made, age-based portfolios as well as ready-made, risk-based portfolios to tailor a 529 college savings plan to the individual needs of the beneficiary.

    Boost The 529 Account With Upromise

    Ohio’s 529 Savings Program has partnered with Upromise to help account save more for college. Upromise is a free loyalty program that offers its members cash back for their purchases from a wide variety of businesses partners, which include over 850 online retail stores and 10,000 restaurants where Upromise members can earn 5% cash back. Others organizations include over 20,000 grocery and drug stores, where Upromise members earn money back on purchases and earn additional rebates with eCoupons. By connecting debit and/or credit card to an Upromise account, account owners can start earning rewards with everyday shopping. When the account owners link their Upromise account to their CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan, they can roll these rebates straight to the account.

    Curious how CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account owners used Upromise? Read this Saving Story from a family who used it to add to their 529 savings

    Can Ohio’s 529 Plan Only Be Used In Ohio? No!

    Saving for college in Ohio’s 529 Plan does not mean that those funds can only be used in Ohio. 529 accounts can be used nationwide (and even overseas) at any accredited two-year, four-year, graduate or trade, or any other post-secondary schools that accepts federal financial aid. If the post-secondary school has a Federal School Code on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), then the 529 plan can be used there to cover qualified higher education expenses. Basically, you can use the 529 account almost anywhere you’re comfortable sending both your student and your money.

    College Savings Giveaway

    To help give the gift of a college education during the graduation season, CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 plan, is giving away five $529 CollegeAdvantage College Savings Awards! Entries will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. EST on June 11.

    As you’ll soon experience, they go from preschool to college really fast! Your college savings can grow with them by using Ohio’s 529 Plan. If you are ready to start saving with CollegeAdvantage, it’s easy to open an account online here. For a good overview on what is a 529 plan, visit SavingForCollege.com for a quick video. A 529 savings plan is an excellent alternative to student loan debt. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.


  • OTTA Office Is Closed For Memorial Day

    by Amy Lyle | May 24, 2017

    The offices of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority will be closed on Monday, May 29, in observance of the Memorial Day.

    CollegeAdvantage Customer Service department (1-800-AFFORD-IT) will be closed on this day. Customer Service representatives are available to assist you on regular business days from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST before or after this holiday. However, you always have access to your 529 account online 24/7 if you’d like to make a graduation gift or account contribution.

    Please note that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will also be closed in observance of Memorial Day. Any transaction requested on a holiday, weekend, or after the NYSE closes will be processed on the next business day.

    Additionally, here are a couple relevant links in recognition of the day:

    • The Ohio History Connection is hosting events around the state to commemorate the day.
    • From the Ohio Department of Higher Education, here are education opportunities for veterans and active service members.
  • Maintenance Scheduled For Ohio’s 529 Plan Website

    by Amy Lyle | May 23, 2017

    The Ohio 529 Plan’s website, CollegeAdvantage.com, will be unavailable due to routine site maintenance from 1 - 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. The website is expected to be back up with full functionality at or after 4 a.m. EST on Wednesday. If you need access your CollegeAdvantage account during this period, you can do so at https://www.mycollegeadvantagedirect.com/ohtpl/auth/ll.cs

  • It’s Never Too Late To Save In Ohio’s 529 Plan

    by Amy Lyle | May 23, 2017

    Little ones grow up in a blink of an eye. One day, they’re graduating from preschool and the next, high school. No matter where a child is in their schooling, it’s never too late to save and invest in a 529 plan for their future training and education costs. Every dollar saved is a dollar that doesn’t have to be borrowed which makes a 529 college savings plan an excellent alternative to student loan debt. No matter when an account is started, Ohio’s 529 savings plan, CollegeAdvantage, is there with information, tools, and calculators to help parents develop their post-secondary savings strategy.

    Even if a student is nearing the end of high school, there are a variety of reasons to open a 529 plan to fund their post-secondary education.

    529 plan tax benefits                              

    With a 529 plan, investment earnings grow tax free, unlike other savings accounts which can be taxed each year. Account withdrawals are also tax free, as long as they are used for 529-qualified higher education expenses, which include major costs like tuition, room and board, and computers to name a few. For Ohio residents, contributions to Ohio’s 529 Plan can be deducted up to $2,000 per beneficiary, per year, with unlimited carry forward, from your taxable income. Even if college is only few years away, or even a few months away, the many tax advantages can still boost the value of your 529 college savings.

    Different 529 investment strategies for different ages

    Based on a child’s age, different 529 investment plan strategies can be considered. For instance, if the child has some time before heading off to college, trade or technical school, then a 529 plan could include a more aggressive asset allocation to potentially gain higher returns with the increased risk. If the child will need the 529 account funds for college costs soon, then a more conservative asset allocation can be adopted so the accrued funds aren’t susceptible to the volatility of the stock market. In addition, CollegeAdvantage offers ready-made, age-based portfolios as well as ready-made, risk-based portfolios to tailor a 529 college savings plan to the individual needs of the account beneficiary as they grow up.

    Additionally, if their child has entered middle or high school, the account owner may want to accelerate their college savings by increasing their 529 contributions. Is the child already in college? Then the account owner should consider continuing to save in a 529 plan to take advantage of tax-free earnings (which saves even more money), tax-free withdrawals, and maximize the Ohio income tax deduction.

    Tools and calculators

    Ohio’s 529 Plan offers calculators and tools to build a 529 plan that best fits the account owner’s needs. The college savings planner can assess the projected college costs and provide an estimated monthly saving amount to be placed in a 529 plan to reach a saving goal. The tax benefit tool illustrates the advantages of tax-free growth in a 529 plan compared to a taxable savings account.

    Others can give the gift of college

    Loved ones want to give meaningful gifts, especially for the big events in a child’s life – holidays, birthdays, and graduation (whether it’s preschool, middle school or high school!). Encourage them to give the gift of college by making a contribution to a child’s 529 plan. Especially as college draws near, these gifts will take on added significance.

    Ohio’s 529 Plan has partnered with Ugift to simplify the process of allowing other people to contribute to CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan. Ugift creates a code which will authorize gift givers to donate directly to a 529 plan online without needing the actual 529 account number. Once a gift giver has the code, they can continue to make one-time or recurring electronic gifts for college without fees. Plus, if the gift giver is an Ohio taxpayer, they can also deduct up to $2,000 in contributions per beneficiary, per year, from their state taxable income. Their gift contribution must be made payable directly to the account, not to the child.

    Another option to consider? Have a heart-to-heart conversation with the child’s grandparents. Many 529 plan gift givers are grandparents who place a high value on higher education. They may wish to make a contribution to an existing 529 plan or even establish their own account for their grandchild. As the account owner, the grandparents will oversee the account and determine when to make withdrawals to pay for the child’s higher education expenses. They also control transfers between accounts, which is especially flexible if there is a need to transfer surplus funds from one grandchild to another. Or they can transfer their 529 account funds into an account that the parent already established as college approaches.

    Benefit From Gift Tax Rules

    Family and friends can add to 529 accounts while taking advantage of the federal gift tax benefits. Per federal 529 laws, individuals can invest up to $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples) per beneficiary without incurring any federal gift-tax consequences. Additionally, an individual 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 grandparents who are considering gift tax implications ​while evaluating their estate planning, 529 plans can be smart way to insure that their monetary gift is used for a highly valuable asset — a college education with little student loan debt. For further information about the federal gift tax, please consult a tax adviser or estate-planning attorney.

    Shop With Upromise To Bolster 529 Account

    Ohio’s 529 Savings Program has partnered with Upromise to help account save more for college. Upromise is a free loyalty program that offers its members cash back for their purchases from a wide variety of businesses partners, which include over 850 online retail stores and 10,000 restaurants where Upromise members can earn 5% cash back. Others organizations include over 20,000 grocery and drug stores, where Upromise members earn money back on purchases and earn additional rebates with eCoupons. By connecting debit and/or credit card to an Upromise account, account owners can start earning rewards with everyday shopping. When the account owners link their Upromise account to their CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan, they can roll these rebates straight to the account.

    Curious how CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan account owners used Upromise? Read this Saving Story from a family who used it to add to their 529 savings.

    Although the benefits of a 529 college savings plan are maximized when the account has a long period of time to grow through the power of compound interest, it’s never too late to start saving for college in Ohio’s 529 Plan. The many benefits, increased contributions, investment strategies, loved one’s college savings gifts, and Upromise can build your 529 account to pay for the child’s post high school education or training costs.

    Ready to start with Ohio’s 529 Savings Program? It’s easy to open an account online. Already have an account and would like to make modifications? Log in to the Direct 529 Plan account to increase automatic deposits or payroll deduction contribution amount, update information, or perform account maintenance. And remember, 529 college savings plan is an excellent alternative to student loan debt. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

  • Ohio’s 529 Plan Adopting Two-Factor Authentication Policy

    by Amy Lyle | May 22, 2017

    Many financial institutions have moved to a two-factor authentication procedure to augment the security of online access to monetary accounts. Log in passwords only (one-factor authentication) ​are no longer considered enough protection to withstand a security breech. In fact, the Social Security Administration recently announced it’s moving to two-factor authentication process to protect the valuable account information by double-checking their online account users’ identities. Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, is also following this industry standard by adding an extra layer of security to protect important college savings account information from phishing attacks and identity theft.

    What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

    So what exactly is two-factor authentication? It is a multi-level 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).

    Most people already use two-factor authentication. When withdrawing money from an ATM, customer must first have the card (possession – something the customer has) and then the customer must enter the PIN (knowledge – something the costumer knows). Many financial service providers already require two-factor authentication when accessing your accounts from a new desktop or other secure device.

    How To Get Started

    A CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 account owner will to take two steps to verify their identity. The first step will be to log in as normal with the account number and password from a private computer or other secure device. This first step would be possession – something they have. The second step will occur when they enter the PIN. This second step is knowledge – something the account owner alone would know. Once they are logged in, the account owner will select how to receive the PIN (Personal Identification Number) – either by text, by phone, or by calling CollegeAdvantage’s Customer Service Department themselves. Once the PIN has been received and then entered from your computer or other secure device, the authentication is complete. the authentication process is complete. In order to keep the account secure, this process will be repeated during the life of the account.

    Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, will be adopting the two-factor authentication process starting in June. At that point, customers will have the option to forego this added layer of security. However, starting in late August to early September, the two-factor authentication process will be permanently required for all account owners.

    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 an account owner logs into their Direct 529 Plan account, there will be a video to watch which describ​es the steps involved with the two-factor authentication process.

    CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. 

  • Give Grads The Gift Of College With Ohio's 529 Plan

    by Amy Lyle | May 17, 2017

    Congratulations to the Class of 2017! If you are invited to graduation parties, you may be wondering what you should give the recent high school grad. A gift card to some restaurant or online store that you hope they like? Something practical like sheets, towels, or a shower caddy to take to college? Something expensive like a laptop?

    Would you rather give a gift that has meaning and significance? How about giving the gift of college by adding to the graduate’s 529 plan? It’s never too late to add to their account to cover upcoming college expenses. And it’s simple to do.

    How To Give A Gift To A 529 Plan

    If the parents have established a CollegeAdvantage 529 account for the graduate, you can write a check made payable to the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. Simply present the check as your gift to your recipient who can then mail the contribution, hopefully along with other gift contribution checks, to CollegeAdvantage. You can also order a graduation greeting card to announce your contribution. And there is no fee to make a gift donation so the graduate receives the full dollar amount in their account.

    Another method of giving the gift of college is to ask the parents if they have an Ugift code for the child’s CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan account. Ugift allows account owners (usually the parents) to set up a code which allows gift givers to donate online directly to an already established CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 plan account without needing the actual account number. Once you have the unique Ugift code for the gift recipient, you can visit Ugift529.com to make your electronic contribution securely from your bank account. It's that easy. It’s also quick and easy for parents to request an Ugift code for their existing accounts. They just need to log in to their account and click on Ugift. Again, you can order a graduation greeting card to announce your online contribution.

    Tax Benefits For Gift Giver

    And, if you are an Ohio tax payer who contributed to a CollegeAdvantage account, even if you are not the account owner, you can deduct up to $2,000 in contributions per beneficiary, per year from your Ohio taxable income. (For tax purposes, you must keep your own proof and record of contributions.) In this way, your gift of college savings can help the graduate and it can help you, too!

  • Don’t Procrastinate About Saving For College

    by User Not Found | May 15, 2017

    In honor of ​CollegeAdvantage's 25th anniversary milestone, many longtime account owners shared their Saving Stories and how using CollegeAdvantage helped them achieve their goals. We are fortunate to have these encouraging stories of how families prioritized their children’s higher education and are sharing them again. Here’s a great testimonial from one of our CollegeAdvantage families​. 

    We feel old in light of the 25th anniversary of CollegeAdvantage, but then we are grandparents now! Our family has doubled since we opened that first college savings account. Now we have our two grown daughters plus a son-in-law and a grandson!

    Although it might have been easier to procrastinate about saving for college when the girls were young, we were disciplined and agreed about education being a priority. Our advice to young parents:  pay yourself first by starting a college savings account for your children. They will be your best legacy!

    We both worked and contributed to our own college, but hoped to make it easier on the girls by having saved at least half of what they would need. In addition to what we saved for them, both of our daughters worked and contributed to their educational expenses as well.

    Our eldest, earned her undergraduate in Elementary Education from Wright State University and her Masters at the University of Dayton. She’s been teaching 2nd grade for 7 years!  Our youngest, went to Eastern Kentucky University and earned her BSN in Nursing. Now she’s not only working full-time as an oncology nurse at the University of Kentucky’s Children’s Hospital, but also completing her Nurse Practitioner graduate degree through Northern Kentucky University. She graduates this summer!

    Obviously, we’re very proud of both daughters!

    Our grandson just celebrated his 1st birthday. The Dr. Seuss party theme was fitting since his Daddy and Mommy started a CollegeAdvantage fund for him just weeks after he was born. So he’ll be . . .

    “. . . off to Great Places!
    Today is your day!
    Your mountain is waiting . . .” 
    ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

     

    Marcus and Lora Warwar

    Miamisburg, Ohio 

    This story was originally published on April 24, 2015.
  • Congrats to Book Jackets winners from Ohio’s 529 Plan

    by Amy Lyle | May 12, 2017

    CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 college savings plan, is proud to come along aside the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation to support their Book Jackets initiative, encouraging kindergarteners to eighth-graders to broaden their minds through reading.

    As part of the Book Jackets reading incentive program, many prizes were distributed to participating classrooms, including Book Jackets folders, Columbus Blue Jackets mini notebooks, and CBJ sunglasses. Additionally, three classes won a pizza party with Blue Jackets mascot, Stinger. The classrooms were from Norwich, Greensview, and Cranbrook elementary schools. From of all the participating schools, students who read the most minutes across the Book Jackets program celebrated with a pizza party held at Nationwide Arena. They even got to skate the Blue Jacket’s home ice!

    CollegeAdvantage also selected five winners to receive $259 college savings awards. The winners are:

    • Luke Shelton of Plain City, OH
    • Megan Friece of Galena, OH
    • Julie Samora of Columbus, OH
    • Kathleen Kenyon of Amanda, OH
    • Amy McComas of London, OH

    Winners who already own CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan accounts will use the awards to boost their ongoing savings. Those winners who are not current account owners, will open accounts and use their awards to get a jump start on their college savings!

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

    Would you like to see your name on a winners’ list from CollegeAdvantage? Here’s an upcoming opportunity to do so.

    Ohio’s 529 college savings plan will be celebrating 529 Day (held on May 29) which showcases the importance of early college savings. By planning ahead for higher education expenses, you can take full advantage of long-term savings, tax benefits, and the power of compound earnings with a 529 plan. To celebrate 529 Day, CollegeAdvantage will give away $529 College Savings Awards to ten lucky people! The giveaway runs from May 22 - June 16, 2017, and is open to account owners and non-account owners alike. Visit CollegeAdvantage.com starting May 22 to enter to win.

  • Ohio’s 529 Plan Counting Down To 529 Day!

    by Amy Lyle | May 09, 2017

    Ohio’s 529 Plan knows how important it is to celebrate life’s milestones and May is filled with them: Mother’s Day, Graduation, Memorial Day, and 529 Day. 529 Day? What’s that? Held on May 29, 529 Day highlights the importance of saving now for your child’s future college education in a 529 college savings plan, whether the future is eighteen years away or three months from now.

    What’s a 529 plan?

    Established by the Internal Revenue Code 529 in 1996, 529 plans are the tax-advantaged way to save for college through tax- free earnings and tax-free withdrawals for 529​-qualified higher education expenses. Additionally, Ohioans who save in CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 plan, can deduct 529 contributions up to $2,000 from their Ohio taxable income per beneficiary, per year. But they are allowed to contribute even more! Contributions over $2,000 per beneficiary, per year, may be carried forward to deduct from future tax years until all of your contributions are fully deducted. By planning ahead for future college costs, a 529 account can grow through the power of compound interest, regular contributions from not only the account owner but also family and friends, as well as all the tax benefits.

    529 college savings giveaway

    In honor of 529 Day and all the high school graduations, Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, wants to help account owners reach their college savings goals by giving away five $529 CollegeAdvantage College Savings Awards! Contest entries will be accepted at CollegeAdvantage.com starting May 22 through 11:59 p.m. EST on June 11, 2017.

    Continuing 529 college savings education

    Continuing the 529 Day celebration, Ohio’s 529 Plan is sponsoring a free, live one-hour Q&A webcast at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, May 24. Tim Gorrell, executive director of Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, the state agency that administers CollegeAdvantage, along with college savings industry experts from Savingforcollege.com, Wall Street Journal, and Florida Prepaid College Board will share their insights regarding college savings and investments. Everyone who registers for the webcast will be able to submit their questions on 529 plans, financial aid, and other college planning topics. Additionally, the registrants will receive a free download of Savingforcollege.com's Family Guide to College Savings.

    For families with young children, 529s are a great way to start early and save over time in a tax-advantaged way. National 529 Day is a great reason to get started now. Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, helps families across the nation save money for their children’s future college costs.

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

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

    Consider opening an Ohio 529 plan to save for future college costs. Remember, 529 accounts are an excellent alternative to student loan debt. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. Enrollment in CollegeAdvantage is easy. Even if your children are older, it’s not too late to save what you can while also taking advantage of the great tax benefits.

  • We Believe In CollegeAdvantage

    by User Not Found | May 08, 2017

    CollegeAdvantage, founded in 1989, has been around long enough that children whose parents saved for them, now have their own children and the now grandparents continue to save in CollegeAdvantage ​529 accounts for future college expenses. The Raabs are one such family of generational college savers.

    Without a doubt, my husband and I both agree that putting our ​two children through college through the CollegeAdvantage program was the best financial decision we've ever made! We believed in the program so deeply, and we told everyone we knew about it! To this day, we continue to brag about our wise decision to utilize the CollegeAdvantage program!

    My husband and I are both graduates of Ohio State. He is a Veterinarian, and I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. It was a high priority of ours to save for our children's college education. The problem was, we didn't have much money. We went to an informational session in our community on the CollegeAdvantage program and we thought it was something we could afford if we worked on it little by little. In the beginning, it was a struggle. We often put our own savings on hold in order to pay into the program. Whenever grandparents or relatives gave us money for the girls for holidays or birthdays, we put it in the CollegeAdvantage account. Our girls were 3 and 5 years old when we began saving and it took us 14 years to fund their entire education, but it was well worth it for them to have no college debt! We were so proud of ourselves when we achieved our goal!

    Our oldest daughter was a Valedictorian and she went to Miami University. She graduated in three years summa cum laude in Botany. When she went on for her Master's degree in Environmental Science at Cleveland State University, she still had a full year of tuition she could use to pay for her graduate education! Having her first job and a new apartment, she had minimal funds and these savings served as a Godsend to her! Currently, she is an Environmental Specialist with the NE Ohio Regional Sewer District in Cleveland.

    Our youngest daughter went to Ohio State and graduated in Nursing. Interestingly, she became good friends with a girl whose parents also participated in the CollegeAdvantage Program! She has her Master's Degree and works as a Nurse Anesthetist at Deaconess Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

    We have a grandson now, and his first birthday is fast approaching! Our most important gift to him will be the opening of a CollegeAdvantage savings account for his future education. WE BELIEVE!!!!!!

    Mary Raab

    Waynesville, Ohio

    This Saving Story was first posted in April 28, 2015.
  • Ohio’s 529 Plan Congratulates College Savings Awards Winners

    by Amy Lyle | May 05, 2017

    CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Plan, wants to let everyone know that saving for college is doable, especially with all the tax advantages found in a 529 college savings plan. Additionally CollegeAdvantage wants parents to know that the earlier you start saving for your child’s future college costs, the more time your 529 account can grow from these benefits and the power of compound interest. In order to get the word out, Ohio’s 529 plan has connected with a variety of organizations around the state to encourage saving for college and offer college savings giveaways with each partner.

    Reds Rookies and Reds Heads Kids Clubs

    CollegeAdvantage is proud to partner with the Cincinnati Reds to sponsor the Reds Rookies and Reds Heads Kids Clubs! Membership in the Reds Rookies is for children 0-3. The Reds Heads Kids Club is open to children ages 3 to 12. Both Reds Fan Clubs provide an opportunity to connect with the team and make memories that last a lifetime. Families in both clubs can also enter to win a $529 college savings award from CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Plan. We’ll be giving away these awards three more times before Oct. 31. See the Kids Club coupon booklet for more information.

    The winner from the first drawing is:

    • Tony Kountz of Cincinnati, OH

    Jersey Watch

    CollegeAdvantage has also partnered Jersey Watch to keep families informed of players’ registration, game schedules and more through local sports organization websites. As part of the partnership, CollegeAdvantage gave away a $529 college savings award to a lucky winner.

    The winner from the March 31 drawing is:

    • Carol Alexander of Westerville, OH

    University of Cincinnati Alumni Association

    In a new partnership, Ohio’s 529 Plan coordinated with the University of Cincinnati Alumni Association to sponsor the University of Cincinnati Alumni Association photo booth at alumni events as well as the UC Alumni Baby Bearcat Program. In conjunction with the photo booth, CollegeAdvantage offered a $529 college savings award. And the winner from photo booth drawing is:

    • Ruby Larson of Omaha, NE

    Winners who have already opened CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan accounts will use the awards to boost their ongoing savings. Those winners who are not current account owners will open accounts and use their awards to get a jump start on their college savings!

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

    Would you like to see your name on a winners’ list from CollegeAdvantage? Here’s an upcoming opportunity to do so.

    Ohio’s 529 college savings plan will be celebrating 529 Day (held on May 29) which showcases the importance of saving now for your child’s college education. By planning ahead for higher education expenses, you can take full advantage of long-term savings, tax benefits, and the power of compound earnings with a 529 plan. To celebrate 529 Day, CollegeAdvantage will give away $529 College Savings Awards to five lucky people! The giveaway, which runs from May 22 – June 16, is open to account owners and non-account owners alike. Visit CollegeAdvantage.com starting May 22 to enter to win.

    * 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.

  • Hats Off To Ohio’s Direct 529 Plan For Its 5-Cap Ratings

    by Amy Lyle | May 03, 2017

    Savingforcollege.com — an industry-trusted informational website which provides analysis and articles on 529 plans, financial aid, and scholarships, as well as tools to estimate college expenses — recently released its 5-Cap Rating ranking, based on data as of Dec. 31, 2016. And once again, Ohio’s Direct 529 Plan, offered by CollegeAdvantage, has earned the top 5-Cap Rating for both in-state and out-of-state residents.

    5-Cap Rating Criteria For 529 Plans

    The 5-Cap Rating is awarded to college savings plans that “offer outstanding flexibility, attractive investments, and additional economic benefits (such as generous tax incentives) that for some people, at least, will provide a substantial boost to their savings. There are few, if any, weaknesses in these programs.”

    The rating is based on five criteria:

    • The performance of the 529 plan;
    • The costs of running the college-savings plan including expense ratios, administration and managerial fees;
    • Special features such as a spectrum of age-based and risk-based portfolios as well as FDIC-insured options, participation in programs like Upromise and Ugift, and contribution restrictions;
    • Reliability signals such as plan disclosure statements, the ease of making account changes, and the caliber of outside program managers; and
    • Extra advantages like tax benefits for any account owner as well as additional tax breaks* for state residents.

    Ohio’s 529 Plan ranking

    CollegeAdvantage’s Direct 529 Plan continues to be one of only four college savings plans nationwide to receive the 5-Cap Rating for both in-state and out-of-state residents in the most recent ratings. Ohio’s 529 Saving Program has earned this recognition for the Direct 529 Plan’s attractiveness for residents of Ohio as well as other states multiple times.

    What are some of the reasons that Ohio’s 529 Plan ranks so well? CollegeAdvantage helps families across the nation save money for their children’s future college costs with tax-advantaged benefits including tax-free earnings and tax-free withdrawals when requested to cover qualified higher education expenses. Additionally, if CollegeAdvantage account owner is an Ohio resident, then they can deduct 529 contributions from their Ohio taxable income, up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap. The taxpayer can continue to subtract $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, from their Ohio taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.

    To build a 529 plan to best fit a family’s needs, Ohio 529 College Savings Plan offers calculators and tools which include:

    • The college savings planner which can estimate the projected college costs and provide a projected monthly saving amount to be placed in a 529 plan to potentially reach a saving goal.
    • The cost of waiting tool which can approximate how much more money will be needed to be set aside if saving for college is postponed.
    • The tax benefit tool which will illustrate the long-term advantages of tax-free growth in a 529 plan compared to a taxable savings account.
    • The risk tolerance questionnaire which will explore the account owner’s tolerance for risk to determine an investment strategy best suited to them.

    CollegeAdvantage also provides suggestions on 529 account strategies as determined by a beneficiary’s life stage:

    • Baby to toddler: If possible, this is the best time to start saving for future college expenses so the account can grow as long as possible while benefiting from the power of compound interest.
    • Kindergarten through elementary: This is another good time to start college savings when disappearing expenses like day care costs can be shifted to fund the 529 account while still having compound interest continue to build the account.
    • Middle school and high school: Savings may need to be accelerated as the cost of college comes in focus. Encourage others to contribute to the account for holidays and milestones in the beneficiary’s life.
    • College: Tax-free earnings, tax-free withdrawals, and the state tax deduction for Ohioans can still build up the 529 account while funds are being withdrawn for qualified higher education expenses.

    The CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan offers a variety of investment options​: from ready-made, age-based or ready-made, risk-based portfolios; to stocks and bond options to create a portfolio based on an individual’s investing preferences; to FDIC-insured banking options. CollegeAdvantage has partnered with leading investment managers Vanguard, Dimensional Fund Advisors, and Fifth Third Bank to provide these Direct 529 plan investments.

    Ready to start with Ohio’s 529 Savings Program? It’s easy to open an account here. Already have an account and would like to make modifications? Log in to a 529 account to update information, perform account maintenance, or increase automatic deposits or payroll deduction contribution amount. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

    *Subscription required

  • CollegeAdvantage And Scholarships Made College Possible

    by User Not Found | May 01, 2017

    Here’s a great testimonial from one of our CollegeAdvantage families​.

    Both my husband and I went to college and there was no question that all four of our daughters would go as well. 

    When we signed up for the college savings plan twenty-five years ago, the twins were thirteen and the others were ten and seven. My husband was the natural born saver, but their grandparents also made gift contributions to their accounts over the years. 

    Because of these accounts and scholarships they each received, they all went to college and are all very successful. 

    One of the twins earned a degree in Psychology from Ohio State, her father's Alma Mater. She also earned her Ph.D. from Miami University of Ohio and is now a clinical psychologist in Dayton. She and her husband now have a CollegeAdvantage account for their daughter.

    The other twin went to Allegheny College in Meadville, PA and graduated with a degree in Biology. She received a MD from the Cincinnati College of Medicine and works as a physician in Cincinnati. She and her husband have two children with CollegeAdvantage accounts.

    Our next oldest attended Muskingum College and became an early childhood teacher, following in her mother's, grandmother's and great-grandmother's footsteps – a 1933 Muskingum grad. She also has a M.Ed. from the University of Las Vegas. She taught in Las Vegas for nine years, and is now a tutor in Massillon, Ohio and is hoping to get a full-time classroom next fall.

    Our youngest daughter chose Ohio University to major in Art and has a B.F.A. She worked at The Guggenheim Museum, then Christie's Auction House and is now the Operations Director of Auctionata in Manhattan.

    All four of our girls used CollegeAdvantage accounts for their education and none of them had any student loans when they began their careers. My recently-deceased husband and I are extremely proud of our children, and we would absolutely recommend enrolling future college students in this program.

    Bonnie Glick

    Massillon, Ohio

    This Saving Story was first posted on April 20, 2015.
  • Fact: Multiple 529 Plans Work Best For Multiple Kids

    by Amy Lyle | Apr 28, 2017

    Families with more than one child may wonder if they need more than one 529 plan to save for their children’s future college costs. While it’s not necessary, the benefits of a 529 plan customarily can be amplified best if each child has their own 529 account. Why? Here are a few reasons.

    Maximize All The Tax Benefits Of Ohio’s 529 Plan

    529 plans allow for college savings to grow in a tax-advantaged manner. Separate 529 plans for each child would maximize these benefits which include tax-free contributions and earnings and tax-free withdrawals when used to pay qualified higher education expenses.

    For Ohio residents with a CollegeAdvantage 529 account, there’s an additional tax advantage. Ohioans can deduct their 529 contributions from their Ohio taxable income, up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. In other words, an Ohio resident can take up to a $2,000 deduction ​from their state income taxes for each 529 plan with a different beneficiary. So if an Ohioan account owner has three Ohio 529 plans for three children, they can maximize this tax benefit up to $6,000 per year. Because of the unlimited carry forward for the state income tax deduction, it means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap. The taxpayer can continue to subtract $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, from their Ohio taxable income until all the Ohio 529 Plan contributions have been deducted.

    Take Advantage Of 529 Plans Tax-Free Withdrawals

    To open a 529 college savings plan, it’s started by one account owner for one beneficiary. A family can choose to have only one 529 account which contains all the college savings for their children; however, only the named beneficiary will be able to take advantage of tax-free withdrawals from the 529 account to cover their qualified higher education expenses. For the other non-beneficiary children whose funds are included in the same account, any account distributions made for their college costs would be subject to a 10% federal penalty as well as federal, state, and local taxes. In addition, these funds could only be sent to the account owner or the named beneficiary in these circumstances. The 529 withdrawal cannot be directly sent to the school for an individual that is not the named beneficiary.

    With CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Plan, there is no fee to open a Direct 529 Plan account or multiple Direct 529 Plan accounts so families don’t have to pay first to start saving for college.

    Follow Different 529 Investment Plans For Different Ages

    Based on a child’s age, different 529 investment plan strategies should be considered. For instance, if a child still has a long time before attending college, then a 529 plan could include a more aggressive asset allocation, in order to potentially reap higher returns with the increased risk. Additionally, the longer the time period before college, the longer the 529 account can grow with the power of compound interest. On the flip side, if a child is close to needing the 529 account funds for college costs, then a more conservative asset allocation can be adopted so the accrued funds aren’t susceptible to the volatility of the stock market. However, if all the college savings funds for multiple children are kept in a single 529 plan, it may be difficult to modify the investment risk in the account according to the age of each child.

    CollegeAdvantage offers ready-made, age-based portfolios as well as ready-made, risk-based portfolios to tailor a 529 college savings plan to the individual needs of the beneficiary.

    Benefit From Gift Tax Rules

    Individual 529 accounts for each child also allow family members to maximize federal gift tax benefits. 529 plan contributions are considered gifts to the beneficiary. Per federal 529 laws, individuals can invest up to $14,000 ($28,000 for married couples) per beneficiary without incurring any federal gift-tax consequences. Additionally, an individual 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. By having multiple accounts for multiple children, an account owner can avoid triggering the federal gift tax. For grandparents who are considering gift tax implications ​while evaluating their estate planning, 529 plans can be smart way to insure that a gift is used for a highly valuable asset — a college education with the least amount of student loan debt. For further information, consult a tax adviser or estate-planning attorney.

    Lessen The Impact On Financial Aid

    529 plans are considered an asset when filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and are a component in determining the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC represents what a family can be expected to cover for higher education expenses. The difference between the total cost of enrollment and the EFC represents the remaining costs that might be subsidized through need-based federal student aid. Current federal guidelines state that if a student is a dependent and the 529 account is owned by a parent, then the 529 plan account will be considered the parent’s asset and will be calculated up to 5.64% of its value when determining the EFC. Pooling college savings for multiple children in one 529 plan will make this account bigger; therefore, it will have a larger impact on EFC. By spreading the college savings through multiple 529 accounts for each child, the asset will be smaller and have a smaller effect on the EFC.

    Easy Transfer Of 529 Funds

    Another benefit of having multiple 529 accounts for multiple children is the ease of transference of the funds from an individual 529 account. If a child finishes their post-secondary education without using all the funds in a 529 plan, the account owner has the option of changing the current beneficiary to another member of the family. The 529 funds already set aside for one child’s college expenses can readily be used by another. 

    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 (and even overseas) at any accredited two-year, four-year, graduate or professional, or any other post-secondary schools that accepts federal financial aid.

    Interested in opening an Ohio 529 plan? Visit CollegeAdvantage online to start saving for future college expenses today. Even small amounts can add up to big savings over time by saving regularly through automatic contributions or payroll deduction. And always, a 529 college savings plan is an excellent alternative to student loan debt. For a good overview on what is a 529 plan, visit SavingForCollege.com for a quick video. CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way.

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

    by Amy Lyle | Apr 26, 2017

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

    Long-Term 529 Investment Performance

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

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

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

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

    Compound Interest – A 529 Plan Powerhouse

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

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

    529 Plan Tax Advantages

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

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

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

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

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

  • Savings Story: The Goss Family

    by User Not Found | Apr 24, 2017

    Here’s a great testimonial from one of our CollegeAdvantage families:

    I was working as a mechanical engineer for FirstEnergy in Akron, Ohio, when I first heard about the CollegeAdvantage Savings Program. With three young daughters, I knew I needed to get serious about saving for their college educations, but with the usual expenses of a growing family it was difficult to do. I had tried using US Savings Bonds, but without much success. The CollegeAdvantage Savings Program seemed to be just what I was looking for and after some investigation I eventually enrolled all of my daughters in the plan.

    Although I was proud of the fact that I had paid entirely for my own college education, I also remembered the stress of wondering where my next meal was coming from or how I was going to buy my books. Consequently, I vowed that my children would not face the same situation when they attended college. But I still felt that it would be important for them to contribute to their education in some form – either by scholarships or part-time work. (We appreciate things much more when we have some skin in the game.) Using the CollegeAdvantage Savings Program, I was able to meet my goal of paying for much of their costs, but still holding them responsible in part. Today all of my daughters are successful professionals working in the medical field. 

    My oldest daughter graduated from the Kent State College of Nursing in 2000 with a B.S. in Nursing. She is currently employed as a Registered Nurse at the Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky, Ohio, in the Emergency Dept. My middle daughter graduated from Belmont Technical College in 2003 with an Associate Degree in Nursing. She is currently employed as a Practical Nurse at the Ohio Veteran’s Home in Sandusky, Ohio. My youngest daughter graduated from Fortis College in 2011 with an Associate Degree in Nursing. She is currently employed as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit of Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

    My tips for using the savings plan are to start early and then keep it slow and steady. Again, young parents don’t have a lot of extra cash, but the CollegeAdvantage Savings Program forced me to put a little aside on a consistent basis.

    Stephen Goss​
    Vermilion, Ohio

    This Saving Story originally posted Feb. 27, 2015.

  • Fund Your 529 Account With Your Tax Refund

    by Amy Lyle | Apr 21, 2017

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

    529 ​Plan Tools

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

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

    Review Your 529 Account During Tax Time

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

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

  • Fact: Ohio Tuition Trust Authority Administers Ohio’s Direct 529 Plan

    by Amy Lyle | Apr 19, 2017

    CollegeAdvantage. Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. Ohio’s 529 Savings Program. Ohio’s 529 Plan. The myriad of terms may have complicated research being done on 529 college savings plans, especially for Ohio residents. For an explanation on what these names describe, let’s start at the beginning.

    Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, State Agency and State 529 Plan Administrator

    For more than 25 years, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority has been helping families save for college.

    In accordance with the rules established by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, a 529 college saving program must be sponsored by a state, state agency, or by an eligible educational institution. Established in 1989, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority (OTTA) is the state agency which sponsors Ohio’s 529 college savings program, named CollegeAdvantage. OTTA is housed within the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Through OTTA, the state of Ohio provides three college savings programs: CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Plan, and CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed 529 Plan, which has been closed to contributions and new enrollments since Dec. 31, 2003. As the state’s 529 college savings program sponsor, OTTA selects investment managers with which to collaborate for the CollegeAdvantage 529 plan investment options. OTTA itself manages the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan and the CollegeAdvantage Guaranteed 529 Plan. For the management of the CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Plan, OTTA has partnered with trusted investment industry leader, BlackRock.

    Ohio’s 529 College Savings Program — CollegeAdvantage

    The name of Ohio’s 529 College Savings Program is CollegeAdvantage. 529 plans help families nationwide save money for their children’s future college costs with tax-advantaged benefits, which include contributions and earnings growing tax-free in a 529 plan and withdrawals to pay qualified higher education expenses will also be tax-free. For Ohio residents with a CollegeAdvantage 529 account, they can deduct their 529 contributions from their Ohio taxable income, up to $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that $2,000 per year is not a contribution cap. The taxpayer can continue to subtract $2,000 per year, per beneficiary, from their Ohio taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.

    OTTA manages the day-to-day operations, marketing, and customer service for the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan. The Direct 529 Plan offers a variety of investment options — from ready-made, age-based or ready-made, risk-based portfolios; to individual investment vehicles to build a personalized portfolio; to FDIC-insured banking options. As OTTA is the program manager of Ohio’s Direct 529 plan, the state agency has selected to partner with leading investment managers Vanguard, Dimensional Fund Advisors, and Fifth Third Bank to provide these 529 plan investments. The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority Investment Board oversees the investments of the CollegeAdvantage Direct Plan.

    CollegeAdvantage is your plan, your way. By saving regularly through automatic contributions or payroll deduction, even small amounts add up to big savings over time. Also, 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 (and even overseas) at any accredited two-year, four-year, graduate or professional, or any other post-secondary schools that accepts federal financial aid. And remember, 529 accounts are an excellent alternative to student loan debt.

    Interested in opening an Ohio 529 plan? Visit CollegeAdvantage online to start saving for future college expenses today. For a good overview on what is a 529 plan, visit SavingForCollege.com for a quick video.

  • Tax Time Is Great Time To Review 529 Plans

    by Amy Lyle | Apr 17, 2017

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

    Make Any 529 Account Adjustments

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

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

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

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

    If You Didn’t Take Any 529 Plan Deductions

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

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

  • NYSE Closed On Good Friday; CollegeAdvantage Will Be Open

    by Amy Lyle | Apr 10, 2017

    The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will be closed on April 14 for the Good Friday holiday. Please remember that any transaction requested on a holiday, weekend, or after the NYSE closes will be processed on the next business day.

    However, the offices of CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 Plan, will be open. Our Customer Service department (1-800-AFFORD-IT) is available to assist you from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. You may also access your account online 24/7 to manage many 529 plan transactions as well as perform any account maintenance.

Back To Top