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||www.gacollegesavings.com||0.08-0.33%|
|College Savings Iowa||IA||Vanguard (Upromise)||www.collegesavingsiowa.com||0.03-0.06|
|Bright Start College Savings Program||IL||Oppenheimer Funds||www.brightstartsavings.com||0.04-0.59|
|Mississippi Affordable College Savings Program||MS||TIAA-CREF TFI||www.collegesavingsms.com||0.14-0.41|
|Direct Portfolio College Savings Plan||CO||Vanguard (Upromise)||www.collegeinvest.org||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||www.tomorrowsscholar.com||0.75-1.23%|
|John Hancock Freedom 529||AK||T. Rowe Price||www.johnhancockfreedom529.com||0.06-1.35|
|Franklin Templeton 529 College Saving||NJ||Franklin Templeton||www.franklintempleton.com||0.63-1.80|
|Columbia New York Advisor 529 Plan||NY||Upromise (Columbia Management)||www.ny529advisor.com||0.25-1.32|
|Columbia 529 Plan||NV||Columbia Management||www.columbia529.com||0.48-1.24|
This article appeared in the May 2009 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser.