In this report
Make the most of 529 plans
Some of the best and worst 529 plans

Some of the best and worst 529 plans

Last reviewed: April 2009

There are 88 different 529 plans. We screened them based on investment flexibility, low expenses and fees, and 2008 performance. We also looked for plans that were appropriately aggressive in the early years and conservative in the three years before college.

Plan State Program manager Web address Expense ratio (range)
BEST These 529 plans, which you can buy yourself, offer relatively inexpensive investments with appropriate allocations based on a child's age. They also offer multiple age-based tracks so, if you decide to invest more conservatively (or aggressively), you won't need to change to another 529.
Path2College 529 Plan GA TIAA-CREF TFI 0.08-0.33%
College Savings Iowa IA Vanguard (Upromise) 0.03-0.06
Bright Start College Savings Program IL Oppenheimer Funds 0.04-0.59
Mississippi Affordable College Savings Program MS TIAA-CREF TFI 0.14-0.41
Direct Portfolio College Savings Plan CO Vanguard (Upromise) 0.02-0.07
WORST These funds, bought through a broker or adviser, currently charge higher fees and expenses—a drag on performance.
Tomorrow's Scholar WI Wells Fargo Funds Management 0.75-1.23%
John Hancock Freedom 529 AK T. Rowe Price 0.06-1.35
Franklin Templeton 529 College Saving NJ Franklin Templeton 0.63-1.80
Columbia New York Advisor 529 Plan NY Upromise (Columbia Management) 0.25-1.32
Columbia 529 Plan NV Columbia Management 0.48-1.24
Source: Morningstar. Data current as of Nov. 30, 2008.

This article appeared in the May 2009 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser.