529 plan performance review: Q3 2018
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By Mark Kantrowitz

November 14, 2018

Each quarter Savingforcollege.com analyzes the investment performance figures for thousands of 529 portfolios and ranks the 529 savings plans from best to worst for 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year investment performance. Our 529 plan performance rankings include plans that consumers can enroll in directly, as well as those sold through brokers and fee-based financial planners.

In producing our rankings, we compared the reported investment performance of a subset of portfolios from each 529 savings plan. We use a subset because plans vary greatly in their underlying investment options. We use a representative subset of options to compare plans on an apples-to-apples basis in seven categories. The “performance score” determines the combined ranking across the categories. For more details, please view our methodology.

It is important to remember that this data represents historical performance. Past performance over any period is not a guarantee of future results.

529 plan performance rankings

Generally, there has been a decline in performance in most 529 plans, except for a handful of 529 plans that squeezed out improvements of less than a percentage point. As in the previous quarter, plans that had more exposure to foreign stocks experienced a greater performance decline. 

Direct-sold

The top performers averaged across all ranked categories can be found below with the New York’s 529 College Savings Program — Direct Plan being the only one to rank in the top 10 in each time period. West Virginia’s SMART529 WV Direct College Savings Plan climbed to the top of the rankings, pushing California’s ScholarShare 529 out of the top slot.

Plan1Y3Y5Y10YDetails

SMART529 WV Direct College Savings Plan

11412

California: ScholarShare 529

743

New York’s 529 College Savings Program — Direct Plan 

10721

Wisconsin: Edvest

9

55

Nebraska Education Savings Trust – Direct College Savings Plan

5612

Kansas: Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Program

21669

Alaska: T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan

16273

University of Alaska College Savings Plan

16273

Ohio: Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage

2281

– 

Maine: NextGen College Investing Plan — Client Direct Series

12119

6

Advisor-sold

The top performing advisor-sold 529 plans across all ranked time periods can be found below.

Plan1Y3Y5Y10YDetails

Nevada: Putnam 529 for America

141

Indiana: CollegeChoice Advisor 529 Savings Plan

412

Nebraska Education Savings Trust — Advisor College Savings Plan

224

Virginia: CollegeAmerica

15332

South Carolina: Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan (Advisor-sold)

8766

Oregon: MFS 529 Savings Plan

5894

Wisconsin: Tomorrow’s Scholar 529 Plan

1167

Ohio: BlackRock CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Savings Plan

6910

Illinois: Bright Directions Advisor-Guided 529 College Savings Program

105128

Colorado: Scholars Choice College Savings Program

91283

A good place to start:

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