Solid, Gold: UESP receives Morningstar’s top honor 7 years running

For the seventh straight year, the Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) has been lauded as one of the top 529 college savings plans in the nation by a leading industry analyst. Morningstar’s Manager Research Group on Tuesday awarded UESP its Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Gold for 2017.

Morningstar evaluated 62 plans in its annual report, naming UESP as one of four to earn the Gold rating.

“Utah Educational Savings Plan’s compelling investment options, exceptional state oversight, and attractive price tag solidify its Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold,” wrote Heather Larsen, Morningstar multi-asset strategies analyst, in her report. “Both residents and nonresidents will be well served by its low cost and appealing set of investment options.”

For UESP, 2017 was a noteworthy year. After hitting $10 billion in assets under management in January, Utah’s plan notched $11 billion in July and now serves more than 349,000 accounts.

“UESP is committed to delivering account owners—in Utah and nationwide—a high-quality, flexible, low-cost college savings plan,” said Lynne Ward, UESP executive director. “UESP tries to take the stress out of investing through our easy signup and account management. We provide families with investment options to meet a variety of needs.

“We’re pleased that Morningstar continues to recognize UESP for these efforts.”

Morningstar rates 529 college savings plans for their management, fund partners, oversight, investment offerings, fees, and performance.

Morningstar cited UESP’s “standout oversight” that led to multiple years of fee reductions, including this year’s drop in its Administrative Asset Fee for nine of its 14 investment options to 0.16 percent, and a smoothing of glide paths within the age-based options.

UESP’s customized investment options appeal to “do-it-yourself investors and the advisors increasingly turning to this plan,” according to Morningstar’s analysis.

“The underlying funds available in the custom investment options, as well as additional stand-alone choices, are a mix of proven strategies,” Larsen wrote.