Best 529 Plans by State - MagnifyMoney

Best 529 Savings Plans by State — Find Your Match

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Paying for college is expensive, which is why it’s common for parents or other loved ones to help contribute to a child’s college tuition. One great way to help with education expenses is with a 529 college savings plan. These plans provide tax breaks on the federal and state level for investing in college expenses.

Plan rules will vary by state, but as long students use the funds for qualified educational expenses (QHEEs) — including tuition and mandatory fees — everyone who invests in a 529 college savings plan can make withdrawals without owing federal taxes.

Parents or someone other than the student can also own 529 plans, so the accounts won’t impact financial aid eligibility much. That’s because parents are expected to contribute just a small percentage of their financial accounts to school costs, while students are expected to use around 20% of their assets to pay for school.

This guide to the best 529 plans by state will help you find your ideal college savings match and make informed choices about investing for the future.

Types of 529 plans

There are two types of 529 plans:

  • Prepaid tuition plans allow you to buy tuition credits at today’s rates for participating schools, which are usually state or public colleges and universities. Students must attend one of the schools that accepts the tuition credits to get the full value of the invested money. The invested funds can only be used for tuition, and not room and board.
  • Education savings plans, on the other hand, are accounts opened at financial institutions. Contributed money is invested in assets, such as ETFs or mutual funds. Many investors choose target-date funds that automatically put money into a mix of appropriate investments based on when funds are needed. Money can be withdrawn tax-free for QHEEs including tuition, room and board, and mandatory fees paid to any educational institution. Money can even be used to pay for primary and secondary schools, as well as for higher education.

Both plans come with risks. Unless guaranteed by the state, prepaid tuition credits could lose value if the sponsoring institution has financial trouble, while investments in an education savings plan could perform poorly. However, state and federal tax breaks make both plans a good way for families to get a little help in saving for college costs.

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How to select the best 529 plan

When shopping around for the best 529 plans, it’s important to decide first whether you want a prepaid tuition plan or education savings plan. You’ll also need to find out which plans and benefits are available in your state.

You want your invested funds to go toward college costs, not high plan fees, so comparing expenses is important when considering which 529 college savings plan is right for you. Common fees include:

  • Prepaid tuition plans: Enrollment fees, application fees and administrative fees
  • Education savings plans: Enrollment, application, account maintenance and management fees
  • Education savings plan: Investment fees, which vary depending on selected investments

Finally, you’ll need to look at residency requirements and eligibility rules to make sure the plan you’re interested in is one you can open and invest in, while also receiving tax breaks for investing.

Best 529 college savings plans by state

Education Savings Plans by State

StatePlan NameMinimum ContributionState Tax Benefit
AlaskaThe University of Alaska College Savings Plan$25/month for automatic contribution plans; $250 for a one-time contribution planNo
ArizonaArizona Family College Savings Program$15/month for automatic contribution plans; $50 for a one-time contributionYes
ArkansasGIFT 529$10/month for automatic contribution plans; $25 for a one-time contributionYes
CaliforniaScholarShare 529$15 per pay period for automatic contribution plans; $25 for a one-time contributionNo
ConnecticutConnecticut Higher Education Trust$15 per pay period for automatic contribution plans; $25 for a one-time contributionYes
DelawareDelaware College Investment PlanNoneYes
District of ColumbiaDC 529 College Savings Program$25Yes
FloridaFlorida 529 Savings PlanNoneNo
GeorgiaPath2College 529$25Yes
HawaiiHawaii’s College Savings Program$15No
IdahoIdaho College Savings Program$25Yes
IllinoisBright Start College Savings ProgramNoneYes
IndianaCollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings$10Yes
IowaCollege Savings Iowa 529$25Yes
KansasLearning Quest 529 Education Savings Program$25Yes
KentuckyKentucky Education Savings Plan Trust$25Yes
LouisianaSTART Savings Program$10Yes
MaineNextGen College Investing Plan$25No
MarylandMaryland 529$25/month for automatic contribution plans; $250 for a one-time contributionYes
MassachusettsMassachusetts U Fund College Investing Plan$50Yes
MichiganMichigan Education Savings Program$25Yes
MinnesotaMinnesota College Savings Plan$25Yes
MississippiMississippi Affordable College Savings Program$25Yes
MissouriMOST 529 College Savings PlanNoneYes
MontanaMontana Family Education Savings Program$15/month for automatic contribution plans; $25 for a one-time contributionYes
NebraskaNebraska Education Savings Trust Direct College SavingsNoneYes
NevadaNevada College Savings Plans$15No
New HampshireUNIQUE College Investing PlanNoneNo
New JerseyNJ BEST College Savings Plan$25No
New MexicoThe Education Plan$25Yes
New YorkNew York’s 529 College Savings ProgramNoneYes
North CarolinaCollege Foundation of North Carolina$25No
North DakotaCollege SAVE$25Yes
OhioOhio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings$25Yes
OklahomaOklahoma College Savings$15/month for automatic contribution plans; $100 for a one-time contributionYes
OregonOregon College Savings$25Yes
PennsylvaniaPA 529$25Yes
Rhode IslandCollegeBound SaverNoneYes
South CarolinaFuture ScholarNoneYes
South DakotaCollege Access 529$50/month for automatic contribution plans; $250 for a one-time contribution from South Dakota residents; $1,000 for a one-time contribution from residents of other statesNo
TennesseeTN Stars$25No
TexasTexas College Savings Plan$25No
VermontVermont Higher Education Investment Plan$15/month for automatic contribution plans; $25 for a one-time contributionYes
VirginiaVirginia inVEST529$25Yes
WashingtonDreamAhead College Investment Plan$25Yes
West VirginiaMART529 WV Direct College SavingsNoneYes
WisconsinEdvest College Savings plan$25Yes

Best 529 prepaid tuition plans by state
Not all states have prepaid tuition plans. The following states offer prepaid tuition plans:

StatePlan NameState Tax Benefit
FloridaFlorida Prepaid CollegeNo
MichiganMichigan Education TrustYes
MississippiMississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition ProgramYes
NevadaNevada Prepaid Tuition ProgramNo
TexasTexas Tuition Promise FundNo
WashingtonWashington Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET)No

Bottom line

Finding the best 529 plan is important to ensure the children you love can afford to attend college. By researching plans in your state and understanding the rules where you live, you can make the most informed choice about which 529 college savings plan is right for you.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.