Savingforcollege.com Releases 529 Plan Performance Rankings for Q1

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Savingforcollege.com's most recent set of 529 plan performance rankings show T. Rowe Price to be a consistent winner over varying time periods.

Newly-released investment performance rankings of all 529 plans by Savingforcollege.com show T. Rowe Price to be a consistent top performer for one-, three-, and five-year periods as of March 31, 2011. At least one of the 529 plans managed by T. Rowe Price for the states of Alaska and Maryland appears among the top-five direct-sold plans for each of those time periods.

According to Savingforcollege.com’s 529 Composite Performance Rankings, Nevada’s USAA College Savings Plan was first among all direct-sold 529 plans in three- and five-year investment performance as of March 31, 2011, but failed to place among the top 10 plans for one-year performance. The Schwab 529 College Savings Plan, sponsored by the state of Kansas, placed second over both three and five years, but also fell off slightly in the one-year category.

South Dakota’s CollegeAccess 529 plan, available on a direct-sold basis only to residents of South Dakota, placed first in the one-year performance category.

The direct-sold programs managed by T. Rowe Price use a blend of actively-managed and index funds from T. Rowe Price. “They are not the lowest-cost 529 plans you can find,” remarked Joseph Hurley, founder of Savingforcollege.com, “but in terms of performance they have shown consistently strong results.”

In producing its quarterly rankings, Savingforcollege.com compares the reported investment performance of a subset of portfolios from the 529 savings plans in every state. Portfolios are selected based on their mix of stocks, bonds, and money-market funds, aiming for an apples-to-apples comparison in seven different asset-allocation categories.

Hurley cautions, however, 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 continue to show significant movement among competing plans over time,” he said.

The full reports showing one-year and three-year rankings for all direct-sold 529 plans can be viewed at http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/2011-plan-performance-rankings-q1.

Savingforcollege.com also produces quarterly rankings for advisor-sold 529 plans along with all underlying investment data, available through a subscription.

One-year Composite Performance Rankings, Direct-sold (49 plans ranked)

1. South Dakota: CollegeAccess 529 (multiple fund families)
2. Alaska: T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
3. Alaska: University of Alaska College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
4. Louisiana: START Saving Program (mostly Vanguard funds)
5. North Carolina: National College Savings Program (mostly Vanguard funds)
6. Vermont: Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan (TIAA-CREF funds)
7. Michigan: Michigan Education Savings Program (TIAA-CREF funds)
8. Virginia: Virginia Education Savings Trust (Vanguard and others)
9. New York: New York's 529 College Savings Program (Vanguard funds)
10. Maryland: College Savings Plans of Maryland--College Investment Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)

Three-year Composite Performance Rankings, Direct-sold (47 plans ranked)

1. Nevada: USAA 529 College Savings Plan (USAA funds)
2. Kansas: Schwab 529 College Savings Plan (multiple fund families)
3. Wisconsin: EdVest (Mostly Wells Fargo funds)
4. Maryland: College Savings Plans of Maryland -- College Investment Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
5. Alaska: University of Alaska College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
6. Alaska:    T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
7. New Jersey: NJBEST 529 College Savings Plan (Franklin Templeton funds)
8. South Carolina: Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Columbia Funds)
9. New York: New York's 529 College Savings Program (Vanguard funds)
10. Nevada: The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan (Vanguard funds)

Five-year Composite Performance Rankings, Direct-sold (36 plans ranked)

1. Nevada: USAA 529 College Savings Plan (USAA funds)
2. Kansas: Schwab 529 College Savings Plan (multiple fund families)
3. Wisconsin: EdVest (mostly Wells Fargo funds)
4. Maryland: College Savings Plans of Maryland--College Investment Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
5. Alaska: University of Alaska College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
6. Alaska: T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
7. New Jersey: NJBEST 529 College Savings Plan (Franklin Templeton funds)
8. South Carolina: Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Columbia Funds)
9. New York: New York's 529 College Savings Program (Vanguard funds)
10. Nevada: The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan (Vanguard funds)

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