In the world of 529 college savings plans, Nevada stands out for its variety of options—five in total. The state offers three direct-sold plans with low-fee investment portfolios, a prepaid tuition program that lets you pay for college credits at today’s prices in order to redeem them in the future and an advisor-sold option that offers the guidance of a professional . All offer distinct tax benefits, and Nevada provides its students with several scholarship opportunities to boost 529 plan savings. Across the board, fees range from very low to relatively high when it comes to Nevada’s direct-sold 529 plans, and the investment menus differ across each. The advisor-sold option carries additional fees, but it also provides scholarship opportunities and requires no minimum opening balance—which is rare among its counterparts in other states. The prepaid option helps you protect against tuition price increases, but the plan won't cover certain expenses like room and board as other plans do. If you’re looking for help in navigating the complicated terrain of Nevada 529 plans, pairing up with a financial advisor can help you invest in one or more 529 plan to create a personalized college savings strategy.
|Plan Name||Program Type||How to Enroll||Fees|
|SSGA Upromise 529 Plan Read Review||College Savings Plan||Direct-Sold||0.29% - 0.89%|
|Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan Read Review||College Savings Plan||Direct-Sold||0.16% - 0.44%|
|USAA 529 College Savings Plan Read Review||College Savings Plan||Direct-Sold||0.52% - 1.08%|
|Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program Read Review||Prepaid Tuition Plan||Direct-Sold||Varies|
|Putnam 529 for America Read Review||College Savings Plan||Advisor-Sold||0.55% - 1.33%|
The SSGA Upromise 529 Plan
The SSGA Upromise 529 Plan allows parents to start investing in their children’s educational futures with as little as a $15 opening deposit. And even though the SSGA plan is open to all U.S. citizens, Nevada residents get considerable perks. For example, the plan periodically provides contribution matching grants up to certain limits for eligible Nevada residents. The state also sets up a College Kick Start account with an initial deposit of $50 for every kindergartener enrolled in a public school in Nevada. The plan offers a variety of low-fee investment portfolios designed for all types of savers and built with low-fee exchange-traded funds (ETF)s. Those new to investing may find the Year of Enrollment options suitable. These options automatically change their asset allocation to become less risky as your child gets closer to the college years.
How Do I Enroll in Nevada’s SSGA Upromise 529 Plan?
You can enroll in the the SSGA Upromise 529 Plan sponsored by the state of Nevada online. You can also download an rnrollment form and mail it in or request that an enrollment kit be mailed to you.
You’d need the following information about yourself and your beneficiary (the person you’re opening an account for): your address, Social Security numbers or tax identification numbers and bank account and routing numbers if making the $15 minimum initial deposit electronically.
How Much Does Nevada’s SSGA 529 Plan Cost?
Each investment option or portfolio in the plan charges a total annual asset-based fee that combines a program management fee and a state fee, as well as underlying mutual fund expenses. This total fee is factored out of all assets in the portfolio or portfolios you invest in, which means your account bears its pro-rata share.
However, this fee is low and on par with several direct-sold plans that other states sponsor. The total annual asset-based fee for portfolios in the plan currently ranges from 0.29% to 0.89%.
It’s important to note, however, that the total annual asset-based fee also includes a Tactical Asset-Allocation Fee of 0.07% for Date of Enrollment and Risk-Based Portfolios. This means these portfolios are actively managed. SSGA uses its own research, models and other resources to construct asset allocations in these portfolios in an attempt at stronger performance.
In addition, the plan charges a $20 annual account maintenance fee unless the account holder or beneficiary is a Nevada resident.
Tax Benefits of Nevada’s SSGA 529 Plan
Because Nevada doesn’t levy a state income tax, it can’t offer any state-tax deductions for the 529 plans it sponsors. However, any U.S. citizen or resident alien can open an account and enjoy several tax benefits exclusive to 529 college savings plans.
When you invest in the SSGA 529 Plan, your contributions grow tax-exempt while they’re invested. This means you can take full advantage of compound interest. Your withdrawals are also tax-free if you use them to cover qualified higher education expenses like tuition and mandatory school fees.
Taking money out of the plan for anything else, however, is considered a nonqualified withdrawal and the earnings portion of the withdrawal may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% penalty. Speak to a qualified financial advisor or tax professional about how any nonqualified withdrawal may affect you based on your unique circumstances.
What Are My Investment Options?
The SSGA Upromise 529 Plan sponsored by the state of Nevada offers several portfolio investment options constructed with SPDR exchange-traded-funds (ETFs). ETFs are generally considered to have lower fees than mutual funds.
Those who are new to the investing world, however, may be attracted to the plan’s College Date Portfolios. You can choose one named after the year you expect your child to attend college. These options automatically change their asset allocation to become less risky as your child gets closer to college age. In this sense, the portfolio aims for strong growth when your child is young by taking on more risk and investing in stock funds. As your child grows up, the portfolio will rebalance to invest more in safer investments like bond funds with an aim to protect your savings and still get a steady return.
You can also invest in risk-based portfolios which invest in stock, bond and money market funds. The asset allocation for these is meant to stay constant. If you’re not sure what your investment mix should look like, you can use our asset allocation calculator to see how different mixes suit different risk levels.
You can use this information to invest in one or more of the plan’s static portfolios. Each one invests in a single underlying fund.
Keep in mind that portfolio options are subject to change. It’s important to reevaluate your investment options periodically. Federal law allows you to change portfolio options twice per year.
How Do I Withdraw Money from Nevada’s SSGA 529 Plan?
You can request a withdrawal by visiting your account online or by filling out a withdrawal request form. You can also request one by calling 1-800-587-7305. You can make payments to yourself, your beneficiary or the educational institution you’re funding.
Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan
Renowned investment research firm Morningstar recently awarded the Nevada-sponsored Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan with a “Gold” rating for its substantial performance and other qualifying factors.
According to research by Morningstar and Strategic Insights, the plan’s portfolio options have average expense ratios of less than half the industry average.
In our evaluation of direct plans across the country, Nevada’s Vanguard option definitely makes the mark when it comes to low fees. However, it has a high opening balance of $1,000 for Nevada residents and $3,000 for out-of-state residents. But if your employer allows automatic payroll deductions into your Vanguard 529 plan, that opening minimum could drop to $50. In addition, the plan offers age-based portfolios and individual options. Each one is built with underlying Vanguard mutual funds.
How Do I Enroll in Nevada’s Vanguard 529 Plan?
The simplest way to open an account with the Vanguard 529 Plan is online. You’d need the following details about yourself and your beneficiary: your birthdays, address, Social Security number or tax identification number and banking information if you’re making the initial contribution electronically.
How Much Does the Vanguard 529 Plan Cost?
Each portfolio in the Vanguard 529 Plan charges a total annual asset-based fee, which combines estimated underlying fund expenses and a program management fee. This total fee currently ranges from 0.16% to 0.44%
Tax Benefits of the Vanguard 529 Plan
The Vanguard 529 Plan offers the same tax benefits as all other 529 College Savings plan sponsored by Nevada including tax-exempt earnings and tax-free withdrawals on qualified college expenses.
What Are My Investment Options?
The Vanguard 529 Plan allows you to invest in either age-based portfolios or individual portfolios.
You can choose an age-based option based on a specific risk level ranging from conservative to aggressive. If you have a high risk tolerance, for example, you may find the aggressive option appealing. This age-based portfolio would invest 10% of your money in stock funds even when your child turns 18. The conservative option, however, would not allocate any funds toward stocks and instead invest entirely in bonds and short-term reserves.
You can also choose up to five out of 20 individual portfolios that invest in various asset classes.
How Do I Withdraw Money from the Vanguard 529 Plan?
You can request a withdrawal by visiting your account online.
How Can I Save More With the Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan?
When you enroll in the Vanguard 529 plan, you can also sign up for Ugift. This program allows you to download a link which you can share online or via social media to request 529 donations from friends and family in lieu of physical gifts. This can come in handy when special occasions come up such as your child’s birthday.
You can also sign up for Upromise, a program that allows you to earn cash-back rewards for eligible purchases. You can transfer these rewards directly to your 529 plan account.
USAA 529 College Savings Plan
The USAA offers a 529 College Savings Plan that the state of Nevada sponsors. The plan allows you to invest in three types of portfolios, and each is composed of USAA mutual funds. Your options include age-based portfolios and fixed-allocation portfolios designed for a variety of risk levels including conservative, aggressive and a mix of both.
How Do I Enroll in Nevada's USAA 529 College Savings Plan?
You can enroll in the USAA 529 College Savings Plan online. You’d need to provide your email address to establish your login credentials. You’d also need the following details about yourself and your child: your birthdays, address, Social Security or tax identification numbers and your banking information if making the initial contribution electronically.
How Much Does the USAA 529 Plan Cost?
Each portfolio in the USAA 529 Plan charges a total annual-asset based fee. You’ll also be charged an annual $10 minimum-balance fee unless you have at least $1,000 in your account, have established an automatic investment plan or have set up direct deposit from payroll.
Tax Benefits of The USAA 529 Plan
The USAA Plan offers the same tax benefits as all other 529 plans Nevada sponsors. So your contributions will grow tax-free while invested, and you can take your money out tax-free for qualified higher education expenses.
What Are My Investment Options?
When you enroll in the USAA 529 College Savings Plan, you can invest in an age-based portfolio or a fixed-allocation portfolio. The age-based option follows a general glide path of investing in less risky funds as your child gets closer to college age. You can also invest in a fixed-allocation portfolio based on several risk levels ranging from conservative to aggressive. If you have a very low risk tolerance or you’ve been saving for a substantial amount of time and want to protect your earnings for your child, you may be interested in the plan’s Preservation of Capital portfolio, which invests entirely in a money market fund.
How Do I Withdraw Money from Nevada’s USAA 529 Plan?
You can request a withdrawal by logging into your account.
Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program
With tuition prices at colleges across the country projected to climb well into the next decade, parents are looking for different ways to cut down the price of college. This is where a 529 prepaid college tuition program can help. These types of plans help you save on college tuition by locking in the current prices.
Nevada’s Prepaid Tuition Program allows parents to buy college credit hours for their children at today’s prices in order to redeem them in the future no matter how much tuition has inflated by the time your kid is ready for college. In addition, the program also provides performance-based scholarships for Nevada students.
Credit prices reflect that of public universities in Nevada, and they can change each year. Check in with the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program for the most current prices and most recent scholarship opportunities and requirements.
How Do I Enroll in Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program?
To enroll, you or your beneficiary must be Nevada residents. The easiest way to enroll is to apply online. You would need the following information for yourself and your beneficiary if applicable.
- Social Security number or tax identification number
- Trust documents showing the trust name and trustees if you're listing a trust as the purchaser.
How Does Nevada’s 529 Prepaid College Tuition Program Work?
With Nevada’s Prepaid Tuition Program, you can purchase college credits for Nevada’s public universities at today’s prices. Your child can redeem them to go to school in the future even if tuition has skyrocketed by then. So how does the program pay for this?
Your money, along with the contributions of other account holders, is invested in the Nevada Higher Education Trust Fund in order to generate funds to cover individual contracts. The plan is more than 100% funded. But in the event of a plan cancellation, you’re entitled to a refund of the money you put into the program as well as any interest charged.
The price of a credit hour generally reflects that of public universities in Nevada, so it can change from year to year. Credits basically break down into lengths of time. For example, you can buy 120 credits to cover tuition at a four-year public university. You can use 60 credits to fund tuition at a two-year community college in Nevada.
Your beneficiary can use credits at any eligible school, including public and private schools outside of the state and even some abroad. But you would be responsible for any difference in tuition prices. You can take a look at your credit-hour options below.
- 4-Year University Plan (120 credit hours)
- 2-Year University Plan (60 credit hours)
- 1-Year University Plan (30 credit hours)
- 2-Year Community College Plan (60 credit hours)
- 2-Year Community College + 2 Year University Plan (120 credit hours)
In some cases, students can use leftover credits to fund graduate school after they’ve obtained their undergraduate degrees as long as they use them before the contract expiration date.
How Much Does The Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program Cost?
The price of a credit hour in the plan can change every year or enrollment period. That’s one of the reasons why this type of plan can be most effective if you open an account when your child is young. As an example, a five-year payment plan to cover a four-year university, or 120 credits, would have amounted to $469 per month if you opened an account during the 2017-2018 enrollment period.
The College Savings Board of Nevada determines credit hour prices in the plan based in part on an actuarial formula. That formula takes several factors into consideration including the following.
- Current price of credit hours at participating Nevada public colleges and universities
- Estimated future cost of credits
- Anticipated investment returns
- The need for a reserve to hedge against higher-than-expected tuition hikes or fluctuating investment returns
Remember to check with the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program to find current credit hour prices and enrollment periods.
What Are My Payment Options in The Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program?
You can buy anywhere from 30 to 120 credit hours. In addition, you have a few options to cover the expenses. These range from making a one-time payment in full or breaking it down into smaller monthly payments. Below are your payment options.
- One-time lump sum
- 5-Year (60 monthly payments)
- Extended Monthly (monthly payments until high school graduation)
The plan charges a 6.25% interest component for monthly plans in order to hedge against certain factors like less-than-favorable investment performances or unexpected hikes in tuition costs.
To determine the right payment option and decide how many credit hours you intend to purchase, consider your child’s age or grade level. This process could give you a good idea of how you can affordably stretch out payments until your child is ready to use his or her credits. A financial advisor can also help you determine the right course.
Tax Benefits of The Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program
The Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program is a 529 College Savings plan, which means it provides the same tax benefits as its direct- and advisor-sold counterparts. For example, your earnings will be tax-free as long as you use them to fund qualified higher education expenses.
How Do I Withdraw Money from The Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program?
All your child has to do to begin using the program’s benefits is fill out some paperwork. Your child can sign an "intent to enroll" form found in the student handbook 60 days before attending a higher education institution. It should be sent to the Nevada Prepaid Tuition office program staff, which will then begin processing tuition payment paperwork on behalf of your child. If the student changes educational institutions before the start of the first semester, he or she must fill out and send a new "intent to enroll" form. You must pay contracts in full before you use them. The school would bill the Nevada Prepaid Tuition program for credit hours on the student’s behalf, and the program will make payments electronically directly to the school.
Putnam 529 for America
With the help of a qualified financial advisor, you can enroll in the Putnam for America 529 Plan. Although the plan is open to all U.S. citizens, Nevada residents get considerable perks. For example, the plan makes automatic one-time $100 contributions to the accounts opened on behalf of eligible Nevada students. Neither you nor your child has to apply for the scholarship. Just meet the following qualifications:
- Have a Nevada address on record
- Have account opened for at least one year
- Have a balance of least $1,000 (includes all 529 plans sponsored by Nevada per beneficiary)
In addition, the plan offers a diverse investment menu, which includes underlying funds that leading investment firms like Putnam Investments and SSGA manage. The plan even offers Absolute Return portfolios and claims it’s the only 529 account that offers such choices. And unlike several advisor-sold plans, you can open an account with your choice of contribution.
How Do I Enroll in Nevada’s Advisor-Sold 529 Plan?
You can enroll in the Putnam 529 for America plan by contacting a local financial advisor, who will walk you through the enrollment process and then guide you through the entire college savings terrain.
Be sure to ask your advisor questions about his or her qualifications, expertise and certifications. Also, ask about the advisors compensation process as fees from one advisor to another can have a large impact on your savings even if investing in the same portfolio.
How Much Does the Putnam 529 for America Plan Cost?
The ultimate price of investing in the Putnam 529 for America plan ultimately depends on sales charges and ongoing plan expenses, which both vary depending on the portfolio and share class you choose. But keep in mind that the Putnam 529 plan is an advisor-sold plan. Because you’ll be getting the guidance of a qualified advisor every step of the way, you may face fees not usually found in direct-plans in order to compensate your advisor, your advisor’s firm and other intermediaries involved in managing the plan.
Your advisor should be able to help you pick a portfolio or portfolios as well as a share class that is suitable for you. Each portfolio in the plan also charges a total fee that combines an administration fee, a board fee and miscellaneous fees, as well as underlying fund expenses. In addition, the plan charges a $15 annual account maintenance fee. You can get it waived under the following circumstances:
- You’re a Nevada resident
- You have at least $25,000 in your account
- You’ve set up an automatic funds transfer to your Putnam 529 account from your bank account
The right share class option largely depends on how much and how long you plan to invest in the plan, and your advisor can tell you how each may impact your individual situation. But below is some information about the share classes the plan currently offers new participants.
Share Class A
- You will be charged an initial sales charge that is factored out of each contribution
- You will generally have lower ongoing plan fees.
Share Class B
- You don't owe an initial sales charge
- You will be charged a deferred sales charge of up to 5.00% if you withdraw assets within the first six years for most investment options
- No deferred sales charge on assets withdrawn to pay for qualified higher education expenses, and it gets waived under other circumstances as well
- Generally subject to higher ongoing plan fees than share Class A
- Converts to share Class A after eight years
Share Class C
- You don't owe an initial sales charge
- You may pay a 1% deferred sales charge if you take out assets within one year of purchase
Sales charges can be reduced or waived under certain circumstances. As you can see, the fee structure in the Putnam 529 advisor plan largely depends on individual circumstances and preferences. You should have a thorough and transparent discussion with your advisor about appropriate investment options and all fees involved.
Tax Benefits of Nevada’s 529 Plans
The Putnam 529 for America advisor-sold plan offers the same tax benefits as all 529 college savings plans the state of Nevada sponsors. This means you enjoy tax-exempt growth on your contributions and tax-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses. You should also speak to your advisor about additional 529 plan benefits that may appeal to you. If you’re an affluent individual, for example, you may be interested in its exclusive estate-tax benefits. 529 plans also offer several ways you can give money to students while avoiding gift tax. For example, you can currently contribute up to $75,000 to a single 529 plan account without incurring gift tax if you don’t make any more contributions to the plan in the next five years.
However, you may also face the same tax consequences if you use your 529 plan funds for anything other than a qualified expense. Speak with your financial advisor about the pros and cons of making a nonqualified withdrawal—should the need for one arise. The 10% penalty may be waived under certain circumstances, and your advisor can also help you find alternatives that don’t require you to tap into your child’s college savings.
What Are My Investment Options?
Your financial advisor can help you construct a customized investment strategy utilizing the various portfolio options in the Putnam 529 for America. You can choose from one or more individual portfolios. Each invests in a single underlying mutual fund and they invest in different asset classes such as stocks and bonds. Your advisor can tailor a combination of these based on your unique risk profile. You can also choose from goal-based portfolios. Each of these has a set investment-mix based on a specific risk profile. However, most of the goal-based options tend to invest heavily in stock funds, so they may not be suitable for someone with a low risk tolerance.
If you have a very low risk tolerance or you’ve been saving for a while and believe it’s time to shore up your savings, your advisor can help you invest in the Putnam Absolute Return options.
How Do I Withdraw Money from my Putnam 529 for America Account?
You can request a withdrawal by visiting your account online. You can also contact your financial advisor.
If you’ve never worked with a financial advisor before, you can use our free SmartAdvisor matching tool to find the right fit. It asks you a few simple questions about your savings and preferences in order to match you with financial advisors in your area. You can then compare their qualifications and credentials to see which one will be best, given your financial circumstances. Many also specialize in specific fields like helping families save for their children’s college education.