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    529 Savings Plans Info On-Line

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    529 plans have become one of the most popular college savings options, allowing money to accumulate for a child’s or grandchild’s college expenses on a tax-deferred basis. Many states currently offer 529 savings plans, but the features, investment options and investment performance vary widely. Fortunately, there are several Web sites that can help you navigate through the maze of plans. Listed below are the most useful Web sites. Some of these sites review and rate 529 plans and plan performance; others provide complete listings and specific details of all available plans; and several sites simply provide a considerable amount of information on 529 plans as well as saving for education in general.

    CNN Money—529 Guide 2003


    money.cnn.com
    Go to Personal Finance, then College and then 529 Guide 2003. The CNN Money guide lists all 529 savings plans by state, providing the plan name and investment manager, any sales loads, maximum state tax deduction, the plan’s expense ratio, and where to get more information by phone or on the Web. The guide also rates the plans and provides a separate list of the best overall 529 savings plans, as well as the best plans for in-state residents based on the mix of investments offered and low expenses. Includes articles on picking a plan.

    College Savings Plans Network (CSPN)


    www.collegesavings.org
    Information clearinghouse on 529 plans. Provides a brief description of all state plans (listed by state) and includes links to state plan Web sites. Also includes informational articles on 529 plans.

    “A Guide to Understanding 529 Plans,” 2002 brochure from CSPN, ICI, and NASAA, is available for download (go to Education & Research and click on Links at the CSPN site).

    FinAid


    www.finaid.org
    Go to Savings, then scroll through the article down to Section 529 Plans. The guide includes information about all state 529 plans, and prepaid tuition plans for private colleges. It also includes ratings of all the college savings plans for state residents and non-residents. This Web site also provides a considerable amount of information on other forms of educational savings and financial aid that are available.

    IRS Publication 970


    www.irs.gov
    This publication, called Tax Benefits for Education, is the official IRS word on the tax rules regarding all of the various breaks for education expenses.

    Kiplinger.com—The Best of the College Plans


    www.kiplinger.com
    Go to Tools, then Planning Tools, then “The best (and the rest) of the college savings plans” under College. The Kiplinger guide covers both 529 savings plans as well as 529 prepaid tuition plans. A map links to brief descriptions of all plans available by the state. Kiplinger’s gives a star rating to eight state plans that are open to non-residents, have reasonable fees and expenses, and multiple investment choices. Also provides educational articles on picking 529 plans.

    Morningstar


    www.morningstar.com
    Go to Personal Finance, then to 529 Data in the listings under Personal Finance. Provides information on plans listed by state, including a basic plan “snapshot” (summary), fees and expenses, purchase information, and state tax information. The snapshot summary description includes Morningstar ratings for the underlying funds.

    Savingforcollege.com


    www.savingforcollege.com
    Comprehensive site, not only for college savings plans but for all financial information related to higher education. Provides details on each state’s plans and assigns a rating based on the overall usefulness of the plan. Allows you to compare the details of two plans side-by-side.