Best 529 College Savings Account Plans in 2021

Parents looking to start a college savings account to help pay for their children’s higher-education costs typically choose a 529 […]

Parents looking to start a college savings account to help pay for their children’s higher-education costs typically choose a 529 account. 529 plans are tax-advantages accounts that grow tax free, but can only be used for certain expense (although this list changes periodically).

Besides the financial benefits to having a 529 account, there is another – and possibly more beneficial – benefit that is often forgotten: You can choose almost any 529 account, regardless of the state you currently live in.

Because of this “free-roam” benefit, you can actually shop around for any state or private plan that fit your situation perfectly. However, there may be additional fees or requirements when choosing another states 529 plan either…. so we took these into account when choosing our list.

So, let’s shop around.

We went through all 200+ plans available in the US to find the best plans that anyone can take advantage of. We looked at each plan’s historical performance, its costs and fees, as well as any restrictions placed on out-of-staters. Surprisingly, there are a handful of out-of-state plans still better than most in-state savings accounts.

Proceed With Caution

There are a few bits of information that you should know before looking at any of the top plans:

  • Any tax deductions are based on your home state. You will need to ensure that your state provides tax deductions on contributions into out-of-state plans.
  • States can change their plan’s requirements at any time. This means that while we take as much caution when building our dataset, things may change. Double check each plan’s information before signing up for anything.

As of December 2020, none of the state-specific plans listed here have any residency requirements.

Top 529 Plans For Anyone

  1. Arizona Fidelity Arizona College Savings Plan: This Fidelity managed plan has excellent performance and no account or maintenance fees. Its asset-based expense ratio is between 0.11% and 0.99%.
  2. Massachusetts U.Fund College Investing Plan: This Fidelity managed plan is similar to that of Arizona, Delaware and New Hampshire, and has excellent performance and no account or maintenance fees. Its asset-based expense ratio is between 0.11% and 0.99%.
  3. New Hampshire UNIQUE College Investing Plan: This Fidelity managed plan is similar to that of Arizona, Delaware and New Hampshire, and has excellent performance and no account or maintenance fees. Its asset-based expense ratio is between 0.11% and 0.99%.
  4. Delaware College Investment Plan: This Fidelity managed plan is similar to that of Arizona, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and has excellent performance and no account or maintenance fees. Its asset-based expense ratio is between 0.11% and 0.99%.
  5. New York 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan: This Vanguard plan has no enrollment or maintenance fees, and a very minimal 0.13% manager fee. Its asset-based expense ratio is 0.13%.
  6. Indiana CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Plan: There are no enrollment fees for anyone using this plan, but out-of-state users will have a minimal $20 annual maintenance fee. Its asset-based expense ratio is between 0.14% and 0.77%.
  7. Nevada SSGA Upromise 529 Plan: This plan is managed by Ascensus College Savings with State Street Global Advisors as the investment manager. No enrollment fees and a $20 annual account maintenance fee is waived if you are a Nevada resident. Up to 0.36% program fees plus underlying fund fees can be charged depending on the plan specifics. Its asset-based expense ratio is between 0.28% and 0.89%.
  8. Pennsylvania 529 Investment Plan: This plan offers 15 Vanguard investment options and has no enrollment fees. If you collect your documents electronically, the $10 account maintenance fee is waived. Its asset-based expense ratio is between 0.215% and 0.315%.
  9. Colorado Direct Portfolio College Savings Plan: The team of Ascensus Broker Dealer Services, Inc. and The Vanguard Group manages this plan, which has no enrollment fees, and an account maintenance fee of $10 that is waived if you receive all the documents electronically. Its asset-based expense ratio is 0.32%.
  10. Ohio CollegeAdvantage: This plan consists of Vanguard or DFA funds, and has no enrollment or maintenance fees of any kind. Its asset-based expense ratio is between 0.165% and 0.50%.

Honorable Mentions

Many of these plans also have very minimal fees as well as well-managed underlying funds. Check out this list only if our top 10 list above does not work or if your specific state is listed below.

  1. Iowa College Savings Iowa
  2. Oregon College Savings Plan
  3. North Carolina NC 529 Plan
  4. Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP)
  5. Washington DreamAhead College Investment Plan
  6. Missouri MOST 529 Education Plan Direct
  7. Kansas Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Program Direct
  8. Illinois Bright Start Direct-Sold College Savings Program

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