Savingforcollege.com Releases 529 Plan Performance Rankings for Q3

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Recent market volatility has caused a shake-up in the list of top-performing 529 college savings plans released this week by Savingforcollege.com, a popular website and independent authority on 529 plans. For the first time, New York's 529 College Savings Program--Direct Plan has placed first among direct-sold 529 plans in the one-year performance category. Plans using funds from Vanguard and TIAA-CREF dominated the top 10 one-year rankings.

Savingforcollege.com
These last twelve months, and especially the third quarter of 2011, have produced a wide range of returns among 529 plans in both fixed-income and equity fund performance.

Savingforcollege.com, the independent authority on Section 529 college savings plans, has released its 529 Plan Performance Rankings for the one-, three-, and five-year investment periods ended September 30, 2011. Its much-anticipated “composite” performance rankings show significant changes compared to Savingforcollege.com’s June 30, 2011 results, particularly in the one-year performance category.

529 plans using mutual funds from Vanguard and TIAA-CREF took the top ten places for one-year performance in direct-sold 529 plans, with New York’s 529 College Savings Program--Direct Plan finishing in first place. In its previous quarterly rankings as of June 30, Savingforcollege.com found that only four of the top ten direct-sold plans relied on Vanguard or TIAA-CREF funds.

“These last twelve months, and especially the third quarter of 2011, have produced a wide range of returns among 529 plans in both fixed-income and equity fund performance,” said Joe Hurley, founder and CEO of Savingforcollege.com. “However, over a longer term, there has been more stability in our performance rankings.”

For three-year performance among direct-sold plans as of September 30, 2011, the Wisconsin EdVest plan, managed by Wells Fargo, finished in first place, followed by Kansas’ multi-manager Schwab 529 College Savings Plan and plans managed by T. Rowe Price for Alaska. The Schwab 529 plan also finished first in the five-year performance category, with Utah and New York plans finishing in second and third place, respectively.

Market volatility also caused movement in the performance rankings for advisor-sold 529 plans, although Wisconsin’s “tomorrow’s scholar” 529 plan retained the top spot for net-asset-value (NAV) performance in all three measurement periods.

Hurley cautions that past performance does not guarantee future returns, and that a plan currently ranking high will not necessarily outperform its peers in the future. “Our rankings have always shown some movement from quarter to quarter,” he said.

The full reports showing one-year, three-year, and five-year rankings for all direct-sold 529 plans can be viewed at http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/2011-plan-performance-rankings-q3

Savingforcollege.com’s full set of performance rankings, including advisor-sold 529 plan rankings and all underlying investment data, is available through a subscription. Rankings are updated each quarter.

One-year Composite Performance Rankings (49 plans ranked)

1 New York: New York's 529 College Savings Program--Direct Plan (Vanguard funds)
2 Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania 529 Investment Plan (Vanguard funds)
3 Vermont: Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan (mostly TIAA-CREF funds)
4 Iowa: College Savings Iowa (Vanguard funds)
5 Michigan: Michigan Education Savings Program (TIAA-CREF funds)
6 Kentucky: Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust (TIAA-CREF funds)
7 Minnesota: Minnesota College Savings Plan (TIAA-CREF funds)
8 Utah: Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) Trust (mostly Vanguard funds)
9 Colorado: Direct Portfolio College Savings Plan (Vanguard funds)
10 Hawaii: Hawaii's College Savings Program (Vanguard funds)

Three-year Composite Performance Rankings (46 plans ranked)

1 Wisconsin: EdVest (Direct-sold) (mostly Wells Fargo funds)
2 Kansas: Schwab 529 College Savings Plan (multiple fund families)
3 Alaska: University of Alaska College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
4 Alaska: T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
5 New York: New York's 529 College Savings Program--Direct Plan (Vanguard funds)
6 Nevada: The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan (Vanguard funds)
7 Maryland: College Savings Plans of Maryland--College Investment Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
8 Utah: Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) Trust (mostly Vanguard funds)
9 Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania 529 Investment Plan (Vanguard funds)
10 Indiana: CollegeChoice 529 Investment Plan (Direct-sold) (Vanguard funds)

Five-year Composite Performance Rankings (36 plans ranked)

1 Kansas: Schwab 529 College Savings Plan (multiple fund families)
2 Utah: Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) Trust (mostly Vanguard funds)
3 New York: New York's 529 College Savings Program -- Direct Plan (Vanguard funds)
4 Nevada: The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan (Vanguard funds)
5 Ohio: Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan (mostly Vanguard funds)
6 Michigan: Michigan Education Savings Program (TIAA-CREF funds)
7 Iowa: College Savings Iowa (Vanguard funds)
8 Arkansas: GIFT College Investing Plan (Vanguard funds)
9 Wisconsin: EdVest (Direct-sold) (mostly Wells Fargo funds)
10 Nevada: Upromise College Fund (Vanguard funds)

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Marie Osypian
JFH Innovative LLC
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