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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Treasurer Zweifel announces MOST-Missouri’s 529 Plan upgraded to Silver by Morningstar

MOST now considered one of top 529 plans in the nation

JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel today announced MOST-Missouri’s 529 College Savings Plan was upgraded by Morningstar, an independent investment research firm, to Silver status, making MOST one of the highest rated 529 plans in the nation. MOST received positive ratings for each of the five plan attributes measured by Morningstar’s analysis.

“Earlier this year, the Missouri Higher Education Savings Program Board took steps we knew were in the best interest of Missouri college savers – cutting costs, adding new options, and continuing to seek the best for investors in our state,” Treasurer Zweifel said. “I am proud of the steps my administration has taken throughout my time in office to provide Missourians with an easy to use, low-cost program as they work to save for their children’s higher education.”

In February, Treasurer Zweifel announced significant changes to the plan which included reducing costs for MOST 529 Direct Plan age-based investors by 28 percent, the addition of investment options from Dimensional Fund Advisors, and rolling up the MOST 529 Advisor Plan into the Direct Plan, dramatically reducing costs for those investors.

Morningstar also praised the MOST 529 plan for eliminating the $10 account maintenance fee. While Morningstar acknowledged it is “not often tha[t] a plan’s rating jumps by two rungs,” they claimed “these changes reflect strong oversight and provide confidence that the plan will continue to be a top choice for investors.” The complete rankings can be found here.

Treasurer Zweifel manages MOST–Missouri’s 529 College Savings Plan, and under his management the program has grown to more than $2.5 billion in assets for more than 150,000 accounts. To learn more about MOST 529, visit MissouriMost.org or call 888-414-MOST (888-414-6678). The MOST 529 Plan offers federal and state tax benefits, low costs and flexible ways to contribute.

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About MOST 529
State Treasurer Clint Zweifel sponsors MOST 529, a tax-advantaged program that enables families to save for a child’s higher education. MOST 529 is an affordable, low-cost, tax-deferred way to save for higher education expenses. Investments in the plan can be used towards many qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, certain room and board expenses, books and mandatory fees at most four-year colleges and universities, many two-year institutions and vocational schools, and some schools abroad. In addition, savings in MOST 529 can be used towards associate's, bachelor's, and advanced degrees. Account owners may deduct up to $8,000 in contributions each year in computing their Missouri state income tax and married couples filing jointly may deduct up to $16,000 annually. Contributions to the Plan in a tax year are deductible from Missouri state income tax up to certain limits, but may be subject to recapture in subsequent years if you make a nonqualified withdrawal.

Investment returns are not guaranteed, and you could lose money by investing in the Plan.

Earnings on nonqualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.

For more information about MOST—Missouri’s 529 College Savings Plan, call 888-414-MOST or visit most529savings.com to obtain a Program Description, Privacy Policy, and Participation Agreement.

Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information are included in this document; read and consider it carefully before investing. Vanguard Marketing Corporation, Distributor and Underwriter.

If you are not a Missouri taxpayer, consider before investing whether your or the designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state's qualified tuition program.

The Missouri Higher Education Savings Program (the “Program Trust”) is a trust created by the State of Missouri. When you invest in MOST—Missouri’s 529 College Savings Plan (the “Plan”), you are purchasing portfolio units issued by the Program Trust. Portfolio units are municipal securities. The Plan has been implemented and is administered by the Missouri Higher Education Savings Program Board (the “Board”). Ascensus College Savings Recordkeeping Services, LLC, serves as the Program Manager and Recordkeeping and Servicing Agent, and together with its affiliates, has overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Plan. The Vanguard Group, Inc., serves as Investment Manager for the Plan. Vanguard Marketing Corporation, an affiliate of The Vanguard Group, Inc., markets and distributes the Plan. The Plan’s portfolios, although they invest in mutual funds, are not mutual funds. 

The Morningstar Analyst Rating® for 529 College-Savings Plans is not a credit or risk rating
The rating is the subjective summary expression of the firm's forward-looking quantitative and qualitative analysis of a 529 college savings plan. Analyst Ratings are assigned on a five-tier scale running from Gold to Negative. The top three ratings (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) indicate that Morningstar's analysts think highly of a 529 plan; the differences correspond to the level of analyst conviction in the ability a plan's investment options have to collectively outperform their respective benchmarks and peers through time, within the context of the level of risk taken.

The Analyst Rating seeks to evaluate each plan’s investment options within the context of its objectives, appropriate benchmarks, and peer groups. Usually annually (although subject to change), Morningstar evaluates 529 plans in five different areas—process, performance, price, parent, and people—and assigns an Analyst Rating for more than 50 529 plans. Gold plans are the analysts' highest-conviction recommendations. By giving a plan a Gold rating, Morningstar analysts are expressing an expectation that the plan's investment options collectively will outperform their relevant performance benchmarks and/or peer groups within the context of the level of risk taken over the long term (defined as a full market cycle or at least five years).

Plans earning Silver or Bronze medalist ratings are also viewed positively by Morningstar analysts, have notable advantages, and are likely to outperform their peers. A Neutral rating indicates plans that are not likely to deliver standout returns, but are also unlikely to significantly underperform.

A Negative rating indicates, in Morningstar’s view, that a plan’s investment options have at least one major flaw likely to significantly hinder future performance. While these ratings can help with the selection process, they should not be the only factor used to choose the investment. For more information about the Analyst Ratings, as well as other Morningstar ratings and fund rankings, please visit Morningstar.com.

 

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