Silver-Rated 529 Plan | 12. MOST Missouri’s 529 Plan | 2017 Rating: Silver | 2016 Rating: Silver | Issuing State: Missouri | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None 11. Michigan Education Savings Program | 2017 Rating: Silver | 2016 Rating: Silver | Issuing State: Michigan | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None
Silver-Rated 529 Plan | 14. T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan | 2017 Rating: Silver | 2016 Rating: Silver | Issuing State: Alaska | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None | 13. ScholarShare College Savings Plan | 2017 Rating: Silver | 2016 Rating: Silver | Issuing State: California | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None
Silver-Rated 529 | 10. Maryland College Investment Plan | 2017 Rating: Silver | 2016 Rating: Silver | Issuing State: Maryland | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None 9. CollegeCounts 529 Plan | 2017 Rating: Silver | 2016 Rating: Bronze | Issuing State: Alabama | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: Upgrade
Silver-Rated 529 | 8. CollegeBound Saver (Direct) | 2017 Rating: Silver | 2016 Rating: Silver|Issuing State: Rhode Island | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None 7. CollegeAmerica | 2017 Rating: Silver | 2016 Rating: Silver | Issuing State: Virginia | Distribution: Advisor | Rating Change: None
Silver-Rated 529 | 6. CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan | 2017 Rating: Silver | 2016 Rating: Silver | Issuing State: Ohio | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None 5. Bright Directions College Savings Program | 2017 Rating: Silver | Issuing State: Illinois | Distribution: Advisor | Rating Change: None | 2016 Rating: Silver

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Gold-Rated 529 Plans | 4. Utah Educational Savings Plan | 2017 Rating: Gold | 2016 Rating: Gold | Issuing State: Utah | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None 3. The Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan | 2017 Rating: Gold | 2016 Rating: Gold | Issuing State: Nevada | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None
Gold-Rated 529 Plans | 2. Invest529 | 2017 Rating: Gold | 2016 Rating: Gold | Issuing State: Virginia | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: None 1. Bright Start College Savings (Direct) | 2017 Rating: Gold | 2016 Rating: Bronze | Issuing State: Illinois | Distribution: Direct | Rating Change: Upgrade

As a kid, we all remember opening holiday gifts, making a mess of torn wrapping paper in the living room, and hoping that Santa had remembered every toy on our list. As an adult looking back, some of us would’ve been more than grateful for money to pay our college tuition or other educational expenses. That’s the beauty of gifting a 529 college savings plan this holiday, or helping your clients to navigate these plans to help fund college in the future.

(Related: Morningstar’s Good and Bad 529 Savings Plans in 2017)

To that end, Morningstar Analyst Ratings has published their yearly list of the best and worst advisor-sold 529 college savings plans. They evaluated the plans on five key points — process, people, parent, price and performance — and may also have taken in consideration other benefits that these plans offer, such as local tax breaks, grants and more. The report identified 34 plans as the “best-in-class options” and assigned Analyst Ratings of Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Each of these ratings follows a set of features, according to Morningstar, such as if the plan has a strong set of underlying investments, a solid manager selection process, a well-researched asset allocation approach, an appropriate set of investment options to meet investor needs, low fees and strong oversight from the state and program manager. Gold-rated plans have all or most of these features, while Silver- and Bronze-rated plans have some of these attributes but room for improvement.

In this article, we mention only the Silver- and Gold-rated plans by Morningstar, with each 529 plan listed alphabetically within that group.

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