529 Plans: Idaho, Utah and Montana

529 Plans: Idaho, Utah and Montana

I know you've all been waiting with bated breath for our next post on this nation's 529 plans. Well, my financially savvy friends, your wait is over. Continuing in our west-to-east fashion, this time around we check into the states of Idaho, Utah and Montana and bring you the nitty gritty on their 529 plans.


The state known for their potatoes brings one 529 plan to the table, a savings plan. This plan has no state residency requirements and is managed by Upromise Investments. There is a maximum of $350,000 per beneficiary in Idaho's plan with a minimum contribution of $25 ($15 per pay period for those enrolled in the automatic deduction option). There are no fees associated with this plan, except a $20 annual maintenance fee for those beneficiaries or account owners who reside outside of Idaho. Those electing to partake in Idaho's plan have an age-based option to choose from as well as five mult-fund portfolio static options and one money-market portfolio static option. Contributions to this plan are deductible to the tune of up to $4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for those married-filing-jointly couples.


Utah, too, has one 529 plan. The Utah Education Savings Program (UESP) is, appropriately enough, a savings plan and is managed by the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority. It's open to anyone in the U.S. Maximum contributions per beneficiary are $387,000 with no minimum contribution amounts. The only fee you'll find with this plan is a $3 per every $1000 up to a max of $15 annual maintenance fee. This fee is waived for Utah residents and even those who reside outside of Utah who sign up for paperless quarterly statements. Those signing up for the UESP can choose from four age-based options and six static investment options, the latter including a FDIC-insured Zions First National Bank savings account option.

There are some tax benefits associated with the UESP as well. Up to $1740 (for an individual filing taxes) and $3,480 (for those filing jointly) in contributions per beneficiary is eligible for a five percent credit against Utah state tax. This works out to a maximum credit of $87 for individuals and $174 for couples. These contributions have a few rules attached to them.

    1.Consider these contributions null and void if one creates a new account for a beneficiary over the age of nineteen.
    2.Anyone besides the account owner can contribute to the plan, but tax credits can only be sought out by the owner and not by any non-owner regardless of contribution.

A last interesting bit about the UESP: it offers some matching incentives. The plan has something called the Fast Forward Matching Program that enables certain families meeting requirements (based on income, age, funds available, etc.) a contribution match of up to $400 per year.


The last state we take a look at today has two plans, the Montana Family Education Savings Program Bank Plan and Investment Plan. The common ground between the two is that neither has any state residency requirements plus you'll find almost no fees attached with either plan (more on this in a minute). In either plan, a beneficiary can have up to a $350,000 maximum. Also, each plan does net contributors some tax benefits to the tune of $3K for individuals and $6K for couples; these deductions can only be had by the account owner, their spouse or their parents.

As for details, the Bank Plan has three FDIC-insured static options within it: the College Sure CD, the Investor Sure CD and fixed-rate CDs. There are no age-based options. A $250 contribution to either of these CDs will result in a CD being purchased; contributions under that amount are held in an interest-bearing account until the $250 level is reach. For those contributing by lump sum, a minimum intial contribution of $250 is required. If one is enrolled in the automatic investment plan either through payroll deduction or an electronic funds transfer, the minimum amount drops to $25 per month.

The Investment Plan offered through Montana underwent some changes in 2010. It had a manager switch and now is managed by Upromise Investments. This program is direct-sold only and contains no age-based options. There are five Vanguard static options to choose from. Minimum contributions are $25; this drops to $15 if made via automatic deduction. This plan also contains the only fee to be found in the Montana plans: a $25 annual account maintenance plan that is waived for those who contribute automatically, those beneficiaries who are Montana residents or for those accounts with balances over $25,000.

Keep watching for more 529 plans as we continue our detailed look into the United States' options for college savings.

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