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Section 529 Professional Resources

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The following professional resources relating to section 529 plans will be of interest primarily to state government administrators, financial aid professionals and public policy analysts.

Professional Associations

College Savings Plan Network (CSPN)

The College Savings Plan Network (CSPN) was formed in 1991 as an affiliate of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST). CSPN shares information among existing state college savings plans, provides information to state agencies that are interested in starting a college savings program and monitors federal activities and legislation affecting the state programs.

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CSPN is a membership organization, with membership open to officials and senior staff in state governments. Private sector membership is available as well. CSPN provides its members with a clearinghouse of information about state prepaid tuition plan programs. This clearinghouse contains data on active college savings programs and other information submitted by membership, including sample legislation and marketing materials.

CSPN has published a Special Report on State College Savings Plans which profiles the states currently having prepaid tuition and savings trust plans. It contains tables that provide information such as number of participants, dollar value of programs and start-up costs. It also has a listing of contacts in each state and a map indicating current status of programs in each of the states. It is available for $10 plus shipping and handling by contacting 1-800-800-1910, order number C153-9600.

Students and parents who contact CSPN will be referred to the appropriate office in their state government. Their site includes a web page providing the state contact information as well as a tool for comparing 529 college savings plans. The site's media room contains statistics about 529 plans, including the number of 529 plan accounts and average account size.

For more information, please contact:
College Savings Plan Network (CSPN)
PO Box 11910
Iron Works Pike
Lexington, KY 40578-1910
Phone: 1-877-CSPN-4-YOU (1-877-277-6496) or 1-606-244-8175
Fax: 1-606-244-8053
Email: cspn@csg.org
URL: www.collegesavings.org

College Savings Foundation (CSF)

The College Savings Foundation is a professional membership organization for the education savings industry. CSF is focused on encouraging public policy support for 529 college savings plans and in public awareness initiatives. Major goals of CSF include preserving and enhancing incentives to save for higher education, such as making the tax-free status of 529 plan distributions for qualified higher education expenses permanent, ensuring favorable student financial aid treatment of 529 plan assets and distributions, and establishing uniform state tax policies that treat all 529 plan programs equally.

For more information, call 1-202-223-2631, fax 1-202-223-2634, write to College Savings Foundation, 1050 17th Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20036, or send email to khamor@collegesavingsfoundation.org.

Designing a College Savings Plan

Many states use private companies to design their prepaid tuition plans or to consult on the design of the plans. Among the companies states have used are Coopers & Lybrand and Ernst & Young, LLP.

Books

  • College Board Publications: The College Board has published a book about prepaid tuition plans. It contains six essays discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the Florida and Michigan prepaid college tuition programs.
    Michael A. Olivas, editor, Prepaid College Tuition Plans: Promise and Problems, College Entrance Examination Board, New York, 1993.
    The cost is $13 plus $3.94 shipping and handling (order number 004841). To order a copy, call 1-800-323-7155 or write to College Board Publications, Box 886, New York, NY 10101-0886. For more information, call 1-212-713-8165 or fax 1-212-713-8143.
  • Joseph Hurley, The Best Ways to Save for College, 2002-2003, ISBN 0-9670322-6-1 ($26.95). To order call 1-800-400-9113 or visit www.savingforcollege.com. (Savingforcollege.com was acquired by Bankrate.com in December 2007.)

Research and Analysis

Saving for College: A Comparison of Section 529 Plans with Other Options, a March 2001 study by Jennifer Ma and Douglas Fore of the TIAA-CREF Institute used a monte carlo simulation to compare the performance of Section 529 college savings plans (age-based investment option) with Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, mutual funds, and Series I savings bonds. The study compared the plans at a variety of tax brackets and with a 6, 12, and 18 year investment horizon. The study found that the Section 529 plans outperformed the other options, with the best advantage when the parents were in a higher tax bracket and when the investment horizon was the longest. The study was updated in January 2002, with similar results.

Patents

College Savings Bank has been issued three patents in connection with the design of the CollegeSure CD (patent numbers 4,839,804, 4,752,877 and 4,722,055). According to the July 10, 1995 issue of the Wall Street Journal, College Savings Bank filed a patent infringement lawsuit in New Jersey Federal Court in January 1995 against the state of Florida for allegedly infringing on one of the patents. Congress removed the states' exemption from patent law in 1992. Florida appealed on the basis that this abrogation of state immunity was invalid, and the US Supreme Court agreed on June 23, 1999 in case number 98-531. Additional details can be found on the College Savings Bank's law pages.

Tuitionfund, LLC of Nashville, Tennessee, was issued US Patent 7,653,572 on January 26, 2010 for Methods and systems for providing a rebate program. The patent was filed on December 31, 2008, but claims the priority of a provision application that was filed on June 2, 2000. The abstract states: "The present invention relates to methods and systems for funding a college education by accumulating and managing merchant rebates. The present invention also relates to methods and systems for enrolling and registering members in an organization through the organization provision of topical information and materials, useful links to, and information on, Internet and non-Internet based merchants, related to a college education. In particular, the present invention relates to facilitating retail transactions between an organization registered members and selected merchants who offer rebates on the transactions between themselves and the organization members so that the rebates are accumulated and provided for funding a college education." TuitionFund, LLC also has related US Patent 7,499,872, Methods and systems for applying rebates to higher education, which issued on March 3, 2009.

 

 
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