529 plan performance review: Q2 2018
Facebook icon Twitter icon Print icon Email icon

By Mark Kantrowitz

August 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. The “performance score” determines the ranking. 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 across-the-board in all 529 plans, except possibly with New Jersey’s advisor-sold Franklin Templeton 529 College Savings Plan. Plans that had greater exposure to foreign stocks seem to have experienced greater performance declines, perhaps due to the impact of trade tensions and xenophobia. 


The top performers averaged across all ranked categories can be found below with the New York’s 529 College Savings Program — Direct Plan and The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan being the only ones to rank in the top 10 in each time period. However, it could reason that California’s ScholarShare 529 will join them when the plan has enough historical data to obtain 10-year 529 plan performance rankings.

California: ScholarShare529211

New York’s 529 College Savings Program — Direct Plan


Nebraska Education Savings Trust – Direct College Savings Plan


Wisconsin: Edvest796

Alaska: T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan


University of Alaska College Savings Plan


SMART529 WV Direct College Savings Plan


Nevada: The Vanguard 529 Savings Plan


Maine: NextGen College Investing Plan — Client Direct Series


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



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


Indiana: CollegeChoice Advisor 529 Savings Plan


Nevada: Putnam 529 for America


Nebraska Education Savings Trust — Advisor College Savings Plan


Virginia: CollegeAmerica


Illinois: Bright Directions Advisor-Guided 529 College Savings Program


Ohio: BlackRock CollegeAdvantage Advisor 529 Savings Plan


Oregon: MFS 529 Savings Plan


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


Arizona: Ivy InvestEd 529 Plan


Maine: NextGen College Investing Plan — Client Select Series


A good place to start:

See the best 529 plans, personalized for you