In April of 2022, the Biden Administration extended the Federal student loan pause for a fourth time, delaying collections and interest until August 31, 2022, adding to the confusion and frustration from both student borrowers and loan servicers. This frustration over rising student debt, and the pandemic’s effect on higher education costs, has resurfaced the need for early college savings. To help caregivers plan for rising costs, the Nasdaq Fund Network (NFN) released their new 529 College Savings Scorecard, a tool that outlines 529 share classes by net asset value (NAV) for those looking to enhance their college savings plan.
Despite the pandemic closing off campuses, college costs rose for a majority of students, adding to an already increasing gap between rising tuition and falling financial aid opportunities. With remote learning keeping students off campus, many deferred their college admissions, wondering why they would pay so much for so little of the college experience. Today, with students largely back on campus, a renewed focus on the student debt crisis is bringing higher education costs back into the spotlight.
A 529 college savings plan is a fund where parents and caregivers can put away non-taxable income specifically for future college costs and even K-12 education. These costs include tuition, housing, apprenticeships, trade schools and student loan debt. Some states even have tax credits for 529 plans that allow for even more savings.
But a recurring problem with 529 plans is how to choose which plan is right for which family. While 529 plans are similar in terms of tax advantages, they differ in state tax savings, management fees and performance over time. This can cause undue stress for parents and caregivers who want to invest in the best fund for their children based on their own financial situation.
Speaking at the Institutional Shareholders Services 529 conference in November, Devin McCarthy, Managing Director of NFN, highlighted the impetus behind the scorecard, “529 accounts deserve to have the same level of transparency as stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds…all investors deserve to have a consolidated view of what they are invested in,” said McCarthy.
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Nasdaq’s new 529 scorecard adds increased transparency to NFN’s mission to make college savings easier. The NFN already compiles data and insights on a slew of 529 plans across the country, registering over 1,200 share classes across a dozen state sponsors. Through Nasdaq, each plan has a searchable symbol, providing issuers a convenient platform to deliver immediate price discovery and transparency to both advisors and investors.
Contrasting with other 529 scorecards, Nasdaq focused on these share classes’ NAV on a quarterly basis. Tracking 529 performance by NAV provides enhanced analytics that are designed to accomplish three goals:
- Build awareness
- Spotlight participants
- Emphasize performance
“We really flipped it on its head, publishing a scorecard based on net asset value change over a quarter, to give families a different look at how their investments perform,” said McCarthy.
Paying for college doesn’t have to be a burden with smart investing. While daunting college costs scare many families, small contributions show meaningful results over time. The new 529 Scorecard is part of the continued effort by the NFN to drive transparency, distribution and awareness of saving for education expenses.
McCarthy added that the scorecard is a great addition for parents looking to diversify their college savings plans with a financial advisor, “It’s a conversation starter, and a different way to look at performance in the 529 space…but families should always consult with an advisor as to which plan is right for them.”
To learn more about what NFN is doing, visit Nasdaq.com/Nasdaq-Fund-Network-529s or contact the Nasdaq Fund Network.
Quarterly Return - Nasdaq Fund Network is presenting the investment option with the largest quarterly change in NAV price from Oct. 1, 2021 - Dec. 31, 2021. State plans in scorecard represent plans currently registered on the Nasdaq Fund Network. Nasdaq is not considering differences in asset allocation, investment style, share class, etc. for the investments presented. As always, investors should consider all investment options to identify an investment option that best meets the investor’s objectives