Alaska, District of Columbia, and New York at the Top of Q3 529 Plan Performance Rankings

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Savingforcollege.com's Quarterly 529 Plan Performance Rankings list 529 plans managed by T. Rowe Price, Calvert Investments, and Vanguard as top performers through September 30, 2014.

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We've experienced a great deal of market volatility in the past few quarters, so it's nice to see some 529 plans with consistently-strong returns.

Strong and consistent investment performance from direct-sold 529 plans in Alaska, the District of Columbia, and New York make them stand-outs in a newly-released set of 529-plan performance rankings. Savingforcollege.com's 529 Composite Performance Rankings were based on one-, three-, five- and ten-year investment performance of all 529 plans through September 30, 2014.

The District of Columbia's 529 plan, featuring mutual funds from Calvert Investments, scored best for one-year performance, and also won high rankings for three-year (4th place) and five-year (6th place) performance. This 529 plan, however, imposes residency restrictions. Nonresidents wishing to enter the plan would have to purchase it through a financial advisor, incurring additional expenses.

T. Rowe Price dominated the longer-term performance rankings, with its two Alaska-sponsored 529 plans placing first and third in three-year performance, first and second in five-year performance, and second and third in ten-year performance. A 529 plan managed by T. Rowe Price for the state of Maryland also placed in the top ten for three-, five- and ten-year performance.

Other notable performances were turned in by New York, with a Vanguard-managed 529 plan that finished among the top five plans in all four performance periods; and by Tennessee which garnered second place for one-year performance, having only launched its new TNStars investment lineup in 2012.

In producing its quarterly rankings, Savingforcollege.com compares the reported investment performance of a subset of portfolios from 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.

"We've experienced a great deal of market volatility in the past few quarters," remarked Joe Hurley, founder of Savingforcollege.com, "so it's nice to see some 529 plans with consistently-strong returns."

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. "We see some movement in the rankings every quarter, most particularly in one-year performance," he said.

The full reports showing rankings for all direct-sold 529 plans can be viewed at http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/2014-plan-performance-rankings-q3-330. Savingforcollege.com also produces, for its premium subscribers, separate rankings for advisor-sold 529 plans and for RIA-channel 529 plans, along with the investment data and scoring used in all ranking reports. Rankings are updated each quarter.

One-year Composite Performance Rankings (55 plans ranked)
1. District of Columbia: DC 529 College Savings Program (Direct-sold) (Calvert funds)
2. Tennessee: TNStars College Savings 529 Program (multiple fund families)
3. New York: New York's 529 College Savings Program – Direct Plan (Vanguard funds)
4. Alaska: University of Alaska College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
5. Louisiana: START Saving Program (mostly Vanguard funds)
6. California: The ScholarShare College Savings Plan (multiple fund families)
7. Florida: Florida 529 Savings Plan (multiple money managers)
8. Alaska: T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
9. West Virginia: SMART529 WV Direct (mostly Hartford Funds)
10. Colorado: Direct Portfolio College Savings Plan (Vanguard funds)

Three-year Composite Performance Rankings (48 plans ranked)
1. Alaska: University of Alaska College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
2. West Virginia: SMART529 WV Direct (mostly Hartford Funds)
3. Alaska: T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
4. District of Columbia: DC 529 College Savings Program (Direct-sold) (Calvert funds)
5. New York: New York's 529 College Savings Program – Direct Plan (Vanguard funds)
6. Maine: NextGenCollege Investing Plan - Client Direct Series (multiple fund families)
7. South Carolina: Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Direct-sold) (multiple fund families)
8. Maryland: College Savings Plans of Maryland – College Investment Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
9. Utah: Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) Trust (mostly Vanguard funds)
10. Michigan: Michigan Education Savings Program (TIAA-CREF funds)

Five-year Composite Performance Rankings (43 plans ranked)
1. Alaska: University of Alaska College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
2. Alaska: T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
3. New York: New York's 529 College Savings Program – Direct Plan (Vanguard funds)
4. Maine: NextGenCollege Investing Plan - Client Direct Series (multiple fund families)
5. Michigan: Michigan Education Savings Program (TIAA-CREF funds)
6. District of Columbia: DC 529 College Savings Program (Direct-sold) (Calvert 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. Florida: Florida 529 Savings Plan (multiple money managers)
10. Louisiana: START Saving Program (mostly Vanguard funds)

Ten-year Composite Performance Rankings (25 plans ranked)
1. Utah: Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) Trust (mostly Vanguard funds)
2. Alaska: University of Alaska College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
3. Alaska: T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
4. New York: New York’s 529 College Savings Program – Direct Plan (Vanguard funds)
5. Louisiana: START Saving Program (mostly Vanguard funds)
6. Maryland: College Savings Plans of Maryland – College Investment Plan (T. Rowe Price funds)
7. Ohio: Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan (mostly Vanguard funds)
8. Nevada: USAA 529 College Savings Plan (USAA funds)
9. Virginia: Virginia529 inVEST (multiple managers and fund families)
10. Nevada: The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan (Vanguard funds)

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