Record number sign up for Oregon saving plan

Record number of Oregonians are investing record amount for higher education through state ‘529’ plan

By Oregon State Treasurer

Oregon 529 College Savings Network reaches $1.8 billion in combined assets as of March 31

More families than ever are saving for higher education and job training through Oregon’s tax-saving college investment plans, and the combined value of those assets is approaching a record $2 billion.

Surging financial markets have helped to boost the value of existing portfolios. At the same time, the pace of both new signups for the plan and new contributions from existing investors are faster thus far in 2013, compared to a year ago.

The numbers suggest strong public confidence in the 13-year-old Oregon 529 College Savings Network, which was reformed by the State Treasury since 2010 to provide more investment options, a higher level of oversight and lower fees. The Oregon 529 College Savings Board received an update this week on the level of investments through the state-sponsored plan.

“Every Oregonian will benefit when higher education is more within reach,” said State Treasurer Ted Wheeler. “The Oregon 529 College Savings Network is a one key way we can help Oregonians to obtain degrees and be better prepared for highly skilled jobs.”

The Network gives families several options to invest, while also qualifying for state and federal tax benefits. The accounts can be used to pay for tuition, room and board, and even books at accredited colleges and trade schools both in and outside of Oregon.

There are two ways that families can invest. They can sign up for their own accounts and guide their own investments in the Oregon College Savings Plan, which is administered by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing. Or they can invest through an advisor in the Oregon Plan offered by MFS Investment Management.

Figures through March 2013 show that 136,409 accounts are open through the two plans that make up the Oregon 529 College Savings Network, with 2,908 new accounts opened in the first quarter of the year.

The maximum tax deduction for Oregon 529 contributions for 2013, which adjusts annually for inflation, is $4,455 for joint filers and $2,225 for all other filers. The deduction is an Oregon incentive for families to save. In addition, the investments grow tax-free as long as they are used for qualifying expenses, under section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Also this week, the Oregon 529 College Savings Board approved a change to the plan oversight that will allow for individuals to have accounts through both the investment options in the Oregon plan, the adviser-sold MFS plan and the Oregon College Savings Plan. Currently, families must choose one option or the other.

The Oregon State Treasury protects public assets and saves Oregonians money through its investment, banking, and debt management functions. State investment policies are overseen by the Oregon Investment Council. The State Treasury also promotes public outreach and education to help Oregonians learn strategies to save money, invest for college and make smart financial choices. You can track Treasury-related news on Twitter at @OregonTreasury.

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