Worried about college costs? The State of Nevada has a new idea for you – investing in a 529 college savings plan compose entirely of exchange-traded funds or ETFs.
The all-ETF option introduced by Nevada in April joins a group of 529 plans currently sponsored by the Silver State. Nevada’s menu includes an advisor-sold plan through Putnam Investments, two-direct sold savings plans composed of Vanguard mutual funds, a savings program featuring USAA mutual funds and a prepaid tuition plan with a state residency requirement, according to Savingforcollege.com.
The all-ETF fund – one of the latest strategies to address college costs - is provided by Upromise investments, a leading administrator of 529 plans and State Street Global Advisors or SSgA, a global asset management company.
The SSgA Upromise 529 offers four investment options. One portfolio is based on an investor’s risk tolerance, another on the college date. The savings option is invested entirely in the Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account (HYSA) as a strategy to preserve principal.
The static portfolio allows investors to choose and manage their selection of SPDR ETFs, an option that may appeal to self-directed investors. Average annual costs for the ETF funds is 0.49 percent as opposed to .87 percent for open-ended funds, Steve Coyle, director of U.S. subadvisory services for SSgA told USA Today.
The SSgA Upromise 529 does not charge an enrollment fee. Accounts can be opened through a $50 a month automatic investment plan or an initial contribution of $250. The annual account fee is $20. Nevada residents are exempt from the annual fee and may qualify for the Silver State Matching Grant Program of up to $300 a year up to $1,500 if their household income is $61,950 or less.
A 529 shelters investment gains from federal and, in some cases, state taxes, and funds can be withdrawn tax free as long as they are used for qualified educational expenses. Every state offers some type of 529 plan and the products are generally open to investors in any state.
The tax benefits of 529 plans make them popular investments with high net worth investors, according to a Millionaire Corner study conducted in the fourth quarter of 2011. A 529 not only shelters investment gains from taxes, but it also allows a generous maximum contribution of $370,000, according to Upromise.
Contributions to a 529 plan of up to 13,000 a year – under current rules – can qualify as tax-free gifts, and investors have the option of making a one-time gift of $65,000 per child to utilize five years of tax-free gifts. A 529 plan allows investors to save on taxes, while saving for college costs.