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UA College Savings Plan Launches New Brand

Oct 16, 2019 | Monitor

FAIRBANKS—The UA College Savings Plan, offered by the Education Trust of Alaska, has changed its name to Alaska 529.

After 2017 tax reform expanded the use of 529 plans, the Education Trust of Alaska determined the need for a name and a brand that better represents the products and services it provides.

“This name change was made to reflect our versatility as an education savings plan that can be used for qualified expenses at nearly all colleges, universities, and technical schools nationwide, as well as for K-12 tuition,” said Tammi Weaver, the trust’s executive officer. “The name may be new, but with Alaska 529, account holders will still experience high-quality plan benefits, customer service and investment management, and the value of our eighteen-year relationship with program manager T. Rowe Price.”

New logo of Alaska 529.

Education Trust of Alaska

For eighteen years, the UA College Savings Plan has featured tax advantages that make it easy to save for education and study anywhere. Although Alaska is in the name, anyone can invest in the plan, regardless of state residency. It has been widely known for offering Alaskans a way to contribute to college savings by checking “Yes” on Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) application and for its $25,000 scholarship account giveaway announced each November.

The new name emphasizes that the program is Alaska’s offering as described in Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. A 529 plan is an investment vehicle created by and the states and authorized by Congress, specifically for education savings.

It is anticipated that rebranding to Alaska 529 reduces confusion about how accounts can be used to pay for education expenses. The results of a statewide survey conducted in 2018 confirmed that some prospective and existing account holders thought investing in the UA College Savings Plan restricted a beneficiary’s college choice to the University of Alaska when funds may actually be used nationwide.

In addition to the plan’s name change, the Education Trust of Alaska announced name changes for two of its featured investment options to more accurately describe the portfolios’ design. The ACT Portfolio has been renamed University of Alaska Portfolio and Portfolio for College is now renamed Portfolio for Education Today. Account holders who invest in the University of Alaska Portfolio will continue to benefit from the portfolio’s tuition-value guarantee, which allows account holders to purchase UA tuition credits now for use in the future. The Portfolio for Education Today is designed for beneficiaries who are already enrolled or are about to enroll in school and will begin using their savings.

Tax benefits enhance 529 plans because any earnings accumulated are not subject to federal income taxes, so more money may be available to invest and to pay for qualified expenses. Account holders can make federal tax-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses and may use accounts to pay up to $10,000 for K-12 tuition per beneficiary per year.

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