The Utah Educational Savings Plan, Utah’s official 529 college savings program, received the highest stamp of approval from Morningstar, Inc., a leading provider of independent investment research, for the fifth consecutive year.
Of 63 plans Morningstar analyzed, UESP was one of only four to receive a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Gold in 2015, indicating that the gold-rated plan is more likely to outperform the benchmark over the long term on a risk-adjusted basis.
“Utah Educational Savings Plan offers compelling investment options at some of the lowest prices in the country, resulting in the plan’s Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold,” writes Janet Yang, Morningstar’s director of multi-asset class strategies research, in her report. “The underlying funds available in the custom investment options, as well as additional stand-alone choices, are a mix of proven strategies.”
Morningstar released its annual rating of the nation’s 529 college savings plans on Tuesday.
More people are choosing UESP to save for college. UESP is one of the nation’s fastest-growing 529 plans, with more than 295,000 accounts and $8.36 billion in assets under management as of October 20, 2015.
“Morningstar continues to recognize UESP for its plan simplicity, low fees, and solid investment offerings,” says Lynne Ward, UESP executive director. “These benefits attract account owners from every state, not just Utah.”
Morningstar evaluates 529 plans based on five key pillars—Process, Performance, People, Parent, and Price—that its analysts believe are fundamental to building and maintaining a strong plan. The criteria enable the investment research firm to assess 529 plans’ governance and management, investment offerings, fees, and returns over time. UESP earned a high ranking for its investment options, capable oversight, and low fees.
“In addition to featuring high-quality underlying investment managers, this plan also leads the field in providing low-cost investments,” Yang writes in the Morningstar report.
“As a nonprofit college savings plan, UESP is an industry leader in keeping fees low. The plan is accessible to families of every income level,” Ward says.
UESP charges no fees to open an account, and requires no minimum or ongoing contributions. Earnings on UESP accounts grow tax-deferred, and withdrawals are free from federal and Utah state income taxes when used for qualified higher education expenses, including tuition and fees; books, supplies and required equipment; and certain room and board expenses.
For the 2015 tax year, Utah taxpayers may claim a 5 percent tax credit on UESP contributions up to $1,900 per qualified beneficiary for single filers and trusts, and up to $3,800 per qualified beneficiary for joint filers. Utah-based corporations that own UESP accounts may claim a tax deduction up to $1,900 per qualified beneficiary. Account funds may be used at any technical school, college, or university that participates in federal financial aid programs for students, not just at institutions in Utah.
For more information about the Utah Educational Savings Plan, visit uesp.org, call 800.418.2551, or email [email protected].