Best 529 Plans of 2024

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Contributor, Benzinga
February 28, 2024

A 529 plan is an education savings plan with tax advantages. The legal term for these accounts is qualified tuition plans, but they get their name because Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code authorizes them. States, state agencies and educational institutions can sponsor these plans.

As you search for the best 529 plans, know that there are two types: education savings plans or prepaid tuition plans. Some plans have state residency requirements while others restrict who can put money in the accounts and who the beneficiary can be. 

Account holders can choose from a range of investment options, including mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Some accounts provide an easier investment option using an age-based portfolio or target date portfolio that helps you save for a certain deadline when the beneficiary will likely begin using the funds. Generally, age-based portfolios offer diversified risk, getting less risky the closer the beneficiary gets to using the account. 

However, these investments are not federally guaranteed, though they might be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). What that means is, you can lose money that you invest in an education savings plan.

The Overall Best 529 Plans:

  • Best for employer-sponsored plan: SoFi
  • Best for widely available 529 Plan: Vanguard
  • Best for account with digital wealth manager: Wealthfront

Best 529 Plans for College Savings

You have several options when evaluating the best 529 college savings plans. Here’s a look at some of the leaders and what these accounts are best for.

1. Best for Employer-Sponsored Plan: SoFi

  • SoFi Savings
    Best For:
    Best for Variety of Banking Services
    securely through SoFi Savings's website

    SoFi members with Direct Deposit or $5,000 or more in Qualifying Deposits during the 30-Day Evaluation Period can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate. Members without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits, during the 30-Day Evaluation Period will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at

College savings plans are not common benefits listed for an organization. But with the SoFi 529 plan, employers can stand out with a unique offering. The plan offers an option for companies to provide contribution matching, much like they do with 401(k) plans. Using the simple tools, you can connect the plan to your human resources (HR) system for easy payroll deductions and administration.


  • Offers an opportunity for employers to provide a unique benefit to employees
  • Both organizations and individuals can contribute to the plan
  • HR system integration makes payroll deductions simple
  • Offers a unique employee benefit to help organizations recruit and retain top talent


  • Designed for organizations and not individuals to open and manage
  • Investments are not FDIC-insured or bank-guaranteed

2. Best for Widely Available 529 Plan: Vanguard

The Vanguard 529 plan is available to investors in all 50 states, which makes it an attractive option — especially if you move around frequently. The plan has low fees, though Vanguard has not continuously updated those fees to keep them as far below the market as they once were. Using the plan can help account holders get started with saving toward education needs without hiring a financial advisor to manage investments.


  • Available in all 50 states, with state-tax-free withdrawals and tax-deferred growth where applicable
  • Low fees, meaning you get more toward your savings
  • Diverse investment plan options and target enrollment portfolios
  • Simple automatic withdrawals and investment schedules
  • Connects with Ugift so that loved ones can also contribute to the account during major milestones


  • While fees are below average, Vanguard’s accounts have not kept pace with others in the industry who are keeping investment fees low
  • Contributions max at $500,000, though you can grow the principal beyond that

3. Best for Account with Digital Wealth Manager: Wealthfront

Wealthfront is a well-known robo-advisor. These accounts help you select investments based on your risk score or risk tolerance. The plan allows for easier investment options, though that comes with slightly higher fees than you might find with other plans. But for those who want to contribute the funds and know they are being well invested, it’s a strong option thanks to the digital wealth manager tools.


  • Ease of management thanks to risk-based portfolios
  • Set up monthly contributions from a linked checking account
  • Help managing the funds with Wealthfront’s digital wealth manager tools


  • With costs around 0.43%, the fees are more than general investment fees from Wealthfront, which are about 0.25%

Best 529 Savings Plans by State

Here’s a look at the state-sponsored 529 plan options based on which state you live in.

StatePlanTax BenefitsMinimum Contribution to Start
AlaskaAlaska 529Yes$25
ArizonaArizona’s Education Savings PlanYes$15
ArkansasBrighter Future 529Yes$10
CaliforniaScholarShare 529Yes$50
ConnecticutConnecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET)Yes$15
FloridaFlorida 529 Savings PlanYesNone
GeorgiaPath2College 529 PlanYes$25
IllinoisIllinois First Steps, Bright Start 529 College Savings or Bright Directions Advisor-Guided 529 College Savings PlanYes$1
IowaCollege Savings Iowa 529 PlanYes$25
KansasLearning Quest 529 Education Savings PlanYes$25
KentuckyKY Saves 529YesNone
LouisianaSTART Saving ProgramYes$10
MaineNextGen 529Yes$250 or monthly payroll deduction of $50 or $25 per beneficiary
MassachusettsU.FundYes$50 (which the state covers if the account is opened before the child’s first birthday)
MichiganMichigan Education Savings Program (MESP)Yes$25
MississippiMississippi Affordable College Savings (MACS)Yes$25
MissouriMOST 529YesNone
MontanaAchieve MontanaYes$25
NebraskaNEST Direct 529 College Savings PlanYesNone
NevadaNevada College Savings Plans (4 options)YesStarting at $15 based on which plan you select
New HampshireUNIQUE College Investing PlanYesNone
New JerseyNJBESTYes$25
New MexicoThe Education PlanYesNone
New YorkNY’s 529 College Savings PlanYesNone
North CarolinaNC 529 PlanYes$25
North DakotaNDPERSYes$25
OhioCollege AdvantageYes$25
OklahomaOklahoma 529Yes$25
OregonOregon College Savings PlanYes$25
PennsylvaniaPA 529YesNone
Rhode IslandCollegeBound SaverYesNone
South CarolinaFuture Scholar 529 College Savings PlanYesNone
South DakotaCollegeAccess 529Yes$250
TennesseeTNStars College Savings 529 ProgramYes$25
TexasTexas Tuition Promise FundYes$25
VirginiaVirginia InVest 529Yes$25
West VirginiaSMART529Yes$50

Is a 529 College Savings Plan Worth It?

The best 529 accounts make it simple to save for future education expenses without paying taxes on the funds or their earnings once you pull the money from the account. The key to making the plan worth it is to select a good one that has low fees with good returns.

One aspect of the plan that you can’t account for is whether the child will go to college or enroll in a program that is approved for spending the funds tax-free. If the beneficiary does not attend a qualified education program, you can change the account beneficiary. This can be beneficial for people with multiple children. However, you can also transfer it to someone else, such as a niece or nephew.

Another option is to move the money to an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account, which helps families care for family members with a disability. 

If none of those scenarios work out, you can withdraw the money and pay applicable income taxes as well as a 10% penalty for removing the money.

What Are the Disadvantages of a 529 Plan?

While a 529 savings account offers options for saving for education expenses, it does have some drawbacks. Consider these before relying on this account type.

  • It offers fewer investment choices than a traditional investment account.
  • Each 529 plan has its own characteristics and benefits.
  • You’ll need to be careful to avoid penalties.
  • Money in your 529 plan will count against your financial aid applications.
  • Some plans have high fees, which make it more challenging to make your money grow
  • If you don’t use the funds for educational purposes, you will pay taxes on the money and a 10% penalty

Tax-free Education Savings

While you’ll want to spend some time researching the best 529 funds, the effort can pay off in a big way when it comes time to pay for education. Making regular, scheduled contributions can also ensure you stay on track for education savings, even for K-12 education in some areas with some plans.

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About Rebekah Brately

Rebekah Brately is an investment writer passionate about helping people learn more about how to grow their wealth. She has more than 12 years of writing experience, focused on technology, travel, family and finance. Her work has been published in Benzinga, Hearst Bay Area, FreightWaves and Dallas Observer publications.