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529 Tips

2019 March Madness And Ohio's 529 Plan

Ohio is part of the 2019 March Madness. Dayton is hosting the First Four on March 19-20 and Columbus hosts the first and second round games of the men’s NCAA tournament on March 22 and 24. With the Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball teams, and the Wright State University women’s team selected for their respective tournaments, Ohio is well represented in this nationwide contest. Their hard work, perseverance, and dedication propelled them to the national stage.

Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, has also been nationally recognized for our hard work, perseverance, and dedication to extend the best tax-free college savings plan possible for Ohioans as well as out-of-state residents.

Why save in Ohio’s 529 Plan?

Why save in Ohio’s 529 Plan? Like our state’s teams, CollegeAdvantage is a proven winner.

Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, is one of only three 529 college savings plan nationwide to earn a 5-Cap rating for both residents and non-residents from, a trusted 529 industry informational website which provides analysis and reviews of the nations’ more than 100 college saving plans. Ohio’s Direct 529 Saving Plan has received this recognition multiple times for the plan’s attractiveness for Ohioans as well as out-of-state residents.

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

Ohio’s 529 Plan is happy to announce that the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan retained its silver rating. In addition, BlackRock CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s Advisor 529 Plan kept its bronze ranking. This makes Ohio one of six states that have both their Direct and Advisor 529 Plans placed in the medal classes by Morningstar. The high ranking for both CollegeAdvantage 529 Plans highlights the strength of these two college savings plans as well as the industry’s regard for Ohio’s 529 Plan as one of the best in the nation.

According to Leo Acheson, an analysist for Morningstar, “Ohio's 529 CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan appeals to residents and nonresidents alike, thanks to compelling investment options and below-average fees. In 2018, Ohio doubled its tax deduction to $4,000 for single and joint filers, further improving the draw for Ohioans. The plan also offers a wide variety of investment choices, which may appeal to out-of-state college savers … The plan retains its Morningstar Analyst Rating of Silver.”

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

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

Ohio’s 529 Plans — Direct and Advisor — have met or exceeded Morningstar’ expectations on these components. In addition, the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Plan is one of only four plans in the country to attain a positive ranking in all five of Morningstar’s pillars.

Other honors include a Kiplinger report, which recognized Ohio’s 529 Plan as having best age-based portfolio for conservative investors. Kiplinger drew special attention to two of Ohio’s 529 Plan individual investment options: Vanguard Wellington and Vanguard High-Yield Corporate.

Additionally, Business Insider ranked CollegeAdvantage as the third best college savings plan in the nation. Bezinga, a website that offers financial insight, has named Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, as best for performance of the nation’s college savings plans.

Finally, money expert and New York Times best-selling author Clark Howard has placed Ohio’s 529 Plan on his Dean’s List as one of the very best 529 plans nationwide. Only 529 plans that have management fees less than 0.20% annually are named to the Dean’s List.

Use Ohio’s 529 Plan almost anywhere

March Madness is a reminder of Ohio’s great higher education academic and athletic record. CollegeAdvantage is proud to be used at any federally accredited post-secondary educational school in Ohio – whether it’s a two-year, four-year, graduate, vocational, or trade school.

However, just because you save in Ohio’s 529 Plan, it does not mean your child is limited to only Ohio schools. You can send your child and your Ohio’s 529 Plan funds to almost any federally accredited school nationwide. You can find out if the school your child wants to attend is federally accredited by searching The Free Application For Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. If the institution is listed under the Federal School Code Search, it means they accept federal financial aid; therefore, the 529 plan funds can be used there.

Easy savings three-pointer — the three 529 plan tax advantages

Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, helps families across the nation save money for their children’s future higher education costs with tax advantages. First, grow your 529 account with tax-free earnings. This means all the investment growth is yours to use for your children’s future college costs. Compound interest, which is the interest earned on contributions, earnings, and interest already accumulated in the 529 account, is included in the tax-free earnings. Second, when used for qualified higher education expenses, withdrawals from your 529 plan are tax-free. Third, if you are an Ohio resident, then you can deduct 529 contributions from your Ohio taxable income, up to $4,000 per year, per beneficiary, with unlimited carry forward. This means that the $4,000 per year, per beneficiary is not a contribution cap. You can continue to subtract $4,000 per year, per beneficiary, from your Ohio taxable income until all the 529 contributions have been deducted.

While watching the remaining schools in March Madness, remember that it’s far cheaper to save for college now and earn interest in an 529 account than pay off students loans with accumulated interest later. 

Like the basketball teams representing the great State of Ohio, CollegeAdvantage is proud to represent Ohio’s 529 college savings program on the national stage. Like these teams, we’ve earned our accolades. If you liked to learn more on how to save for your child’s future higher education costs, visit When you’re ready to open an account, you can do it in a few minutes online to save for your child’s future training and higher education. For someday your child is going to college. Someday starts today with Ohio’s 529 Plan.

Posted on March 19, 2019

Ohio Tuition Trust Authority

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