Each state's 529 plan offers unique features. Listed below are features by which
plans can be compared. Select the plan features you wish to compare. Always consider your
state 529 plan as it may offer tax benefits or other attractive features. If you are not
sure which features are most important to you, visit our Common 529 Questions section.
Select your state:
District of Columbia
Private College 529 Plan
Select your home state (or the state of the beneficiary) to view plans for that state.
Always consider your home state's plan(s) (or the home state of the beneficiary) as it may offer
tax incentives or other attractive features specifically for state residents.
529 plans can be "savings" plans or "prepaid tuition" plans. Savings plans are
an investment account that you contribute to, and your account grows based on market returns. Prepaid
tuition plans allow you to directly purchase tuition based on today's cost for future use.
You should consider the flexibility of a savings plan account versus the tuition guarantee of a
prepaid tuition account. Note that a prepaid account is designed for use at colleges in your
state of residence (or the beneficiary's state of residence).
Savings plans allow you to contribute to an investment account and you can use the
accumulated assets for any eligible college expense. Additionally, assets in savings
plans can be used at virtually any school in the country.
Savings plans are flexible because you can use the assets at schools outside your
state of residence, and you can use account assets for other eligible college
expenses in addition to tuition.
You typically open an account in a direct-sold program by requesting enrollment materials
and applying directly to the program, or through the program's web site.
You must make your own selection of your investment option (or options), but
you do not pay a sales commission.
You typically open an account in an advisor-sold program through a financial advisor or broker.
Your advisor or broker provides professional advice, helps you make investment decisions, and
receives sales commissions for that service.
Prepaid plans are offered in 18 states and allow you to pre-purchase tuition based
on today's rates to be used in the future when the beneficiary is in college.
Typically, you or the beneficiary must be a resident of the state that sponsors
the prepaid plan. These plans are designed for use at a public college in that state with the option
for funds to be used at private and out of state schools at a pre-determined valuation.
Pick your state:
Private College 529 Plan
The states in the drop-down box to the left offer a prepaid tuition 529 plan.
Since prepaid plans are typically designed for use in the sponsoring state,
please select your state of residence (or the intended beneficiary's
state of residence) if that state offers a prepaid plan.
State tax benefits
Each state determines how its 529 plans are structured, and many states offer significant tax advantages such as a state tax deduction, deferral of taxes on earnings, and tax-free withdrawals for eligible college expenses.
When taxes are deferred on earnings in your 529 plan account, you may experience significant additional growth compared to a taxable investment. A tax deduction for contributions and tax-free withdrawals from your account make the plan even more attractive.
State tax deduction for contributions
Some states offer a state income tax deduction for some or all of the contributions you make to your 529 plan account.
A state tax deduction decreases your taxable income for state tax purposes.
State tax-deferred earnings
When taxes are deferred on earnings, you do not pay tax on the year-to-year growth in your account.
Deferral of taxes on earnings has a compounding effect on the growth of your account.
State tax-free withdrawals
When you make withdrawals, no taxes are owed on the amount withdrawn for eligible college expenses.
Tax-free withdrawals allow you to apply more of your account assets to the costs of college.
State tax credit for contributions
Some states offer a state income tax credit for some or all of the contributions you make
to your 529 plan account.
A state tax credit decreases your taxable income for state tax purposes.
Other state benefits
Some plans offer additional state-based benefits for investors who invest in 529 plans
offered by their state of residence.
Although these benefits are less common, they may make a plan even more attractive.
Financial aid benefits
Some states do not count 529 plan assets when determining state-based financial aid
for current and in-coming students at public colleges.
More state-based financial aid may be available when your 529 plan assets are not
included in the expected family contribution calculation. But be aware that most
financial aid is federal, and that most financial aid is in the form of loans.
Some states offer a needs-based matching grant for a portion of your contributions
to your account.
This match, if available, increases the amount of contributions made to your account.
529 plans charge fees in various ways. These can include asset-based fees (a percentage of
your annual account balance), sales commissions (a percentage of your contributions paid to your
advisor or broker), and administrative fees.
Fees offset a portion of the earnings in your account. "Direct sold" plans are typically
offered at lower fees and without sales commissions. "Advisor sold" plans offer professional
investment advice and service, with fees that include standard sales commissions.
529 plans offer multiple investment options. Typically, you can invest in one or more of the
options offered by a plan.
The investment options can include managed age-based options, 100% stock fund (equity) options,
stable value funds, guaranteed options, and even certificates of deposit.
These investment options are managed so that the investment allocation
(a mix of stock, bond, money market and other funds) varies based on the age
of the beneficiary.
The investment becomes more conservative
as the beneficiary gets older to reduce risk as the beneficiary approaches college.
These investment options are based primarily on stock (equity) funds.
Stock-based investments may offer a possibility of greater returns, with a higher level of risk.
Fixed income options
These investment options are based primarily on bond funds.
Bond-based investments carry certain risks, but are considered less risky than stock funds.
These investment options offer a blend of stock and bond funds.
Blended funds seek to balance the relative risk of a stock fund with the relative
safety of a bond fund.
These investment options guarantee principal (your contributions) and offer a fixed rate of return.
Guaranteed options are typically the least risky investment, but offer lower returns.
Capital preservation options
These investment options offer safety of the initial contributions and a variable rate of return.
These options are typically less risky investments with lower returns than other investment types.
Minimum initial contribution
529 plans, as with most investments, have a minimum dollar amount for an initial contribution to open an account.
You should consider the amount you will be required to invest in selecting the program that is right for your individual circumstances.
Minimum subsequent contribution
529 plans, also like most investments, have a minimum dollar amount for further contributions after the account has been opened.
You should consider the amount you will be required to invest for subsequent contributions in selecting the program that is right for your individual circumstances.
Maximum total contributions
By federal law, 529 plans must have a cap on total contributions.
When you reach the maximum for total contributions your account can continue to earn returns, but you cannot make further contributions.
States typically contract with a financial services firm to provide investment management and other program services.
If you are comfortable with a particular financial services firm, you may wish to consider a plan that uses that firm as its investment manager.