Governor Whitmer Announces Michigan Education Savings Program Earns Top Rating for Third Straight Year
MESP one of two 529 college savings plans nationwide to earn elite “Gold” status from independent investment research firm
published December 2, 2022
LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP) was again rated one of the country’s best performers in Morningstar Inc.’s annual ratings of 529 college savings plans, retaining its “Gold” status for the third straight year. The governor is committed to working with anyone to lower costs for working families and ensuring everyone can get on an affordable path to higher education through the MESP, programs like Michigan Reconnect, and the Michigan Achievement Scholarship.
“Saving for your child’s education today can put them on a path to long-term success,” said Governor Whitmer. “For years, the MESP, one of two “Gold” status programs in the nation, has been helping families save for college. I encourage Michiganders to check out all the programs offered by the Michigan Department of Treasury and make an investment in the future early so that they are in a stronger financial position when tuition bills come due later in life. I will work with anyone to help more students get to college by encouraging early saving through the MESP and establishing and expanding both Michigan Reconnect and the Michigan Achievement Scholarship to offer tuition-free or lower-cost paths to higher education.”
“It’s always gratifying to earn validation from a respected third party that you’re among the best college savings plans in the entire country,” said State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks. “Our current and future account owners can take comfort that the state of Michigan is delivering to families the best plan to help their loved ones pursue their college education dreams. Saving for college does not require a huge deposit. Contact us today so we can help you figure out which plan suits your family’s goals.”
MESP’s “Gold” Status
Morningstar analyzed 54 education savings plans in 2022. MESP was one of two to earn a “Gold” rating, and the plan was praised for its “excellent stewardship” and “well-designed, low-cost offerings.” Plans receiving “Gold” ratings are considered “industry standard setters” by Morningstar.
MESP, managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing Inc. on behalf of the Michigan Department of Treasury, offers a variety of investment options in which families can save for college tax-free. The options vary in investment strategy and degree of risk, allowing account holders to select an option or combination of options that fit their needs.
Morningstar noted that in 2020, MESP moved to a target enrollment structure, in which participants see a gradual shift to bonds from stocks to mitigate risk. Morningstar also praised the “highly rated” funds offered within MESP accounts, including those from Vanguard, iShares, Schwab and TIAA-CREF. MESP further garnered recognition for its low fees, which make it “among the cheapest in the industry,” Morningstar stated.
MESP is one of three Michigan Section 529 plans, named after the section of the Internal Revenue Code that allowed for their creation. The others are the Michigan Education Trust prepaid tuition program and the MI 529 Advisor plan, which is offered through investment advisers.
Each plan offers Michigan taxpayers a state income tax deduction on contributions and potential tax-free growth on earnings if account proceeds are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses.
MESP can be used at any eligible college, university or trade school in the nation and some abroad for a variety of qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, certain room and board costs, books, supplies and equipment required for enrollment.
Signed into law by Governor Whitmer, Michigan Reconnect is a bipartisan scholarship that offers Michiganders 25 or older who do not have a college degree the opportunity to earn an associate degree or skills certificate tuition-free at any of Michigan’s public community colleges, including its three tribal colleges. Eligible residents can attend a degree or certificate program tuition-free at a community college where they are considered in-district. For those who are not considered in-district by a community college, Michigan Reconnect will still cover up to the in-district portion of tuition.
Since Michigan Reconnect launched, over 100,000 Michiganders have been accepted into the scholarship program and more than 18,000 have enrolled in a community college, helping to drive success toward Gov. Whitmer’s Sixty by 30 goal of having 60% of Michiganders with a postsecondary degree or skills certificate by 2030.
More information is available at Michigan.gov/Reconnect.
Michigan Achievement Scholarship
To make college more affordable for families, grow Michigan’s talent pool, and get the state closer to achieving its Sixty by 30 goal, Governor Whitmer signed bipartisan legislation creating the Michigan Achievement Scholarship. This legislation builds on Governor Whitmer’s promise in 2019 to pass Michigan Reconnect and Michigan Opportunity Scholarships to reach the state’s Sixty by 30 goal of 60% of adults with a skill certificate or college degree by 2030.
Starting with the class of 2023, graduates are eligible for annual scholarships up to:
- $2,750 at a community college
- $4,000 at a private college or university
- $5,500 at a public university
The scholarships are renewable for up to 3 years at a community college and up to 5 years at a private college or public university, totaling up to:
- $8,250 at community college
- $20,000 at a private college or university
- $27,500 at a public university
Students will be eligible if their family demonstrates financial need when they complete the FAFSA. The Michigan Achievement Scholarship will cover:
- 94% of students attending community colleges
- 79% of students attending a private college or university
- 76% of students attending a public university
For more information on how to get your Michigan Achievement Scholarship, visit Michigan.gov/MIStudentAid.
Program Administrator, Michigan Department of Treasury.
To learn more about the Michigan Education Savings Program, its investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses please see the Program Description at MIsaves.com. Read it carefully. Investments in the Plan are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is the risk of investment loss. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Member FINRA, is the distributor and underwriter for the Michigan Educations Savings Program.
If the funds aren't used for qualified higher education expenses, a federal 10% penalty tax on earnings (as well as federal and state income taxes) may apply.
In an annual review (11/2/2022) of the largest 529 college savings plans (54 plans representing 93% of 529 assets), Morningstar identified 34 plans that rose above their typical peers, awarding those plans Gold, Silver, and Bronze Morningstar Analyst Ratings for 2022. These plans offer investment options that Morningstar expects will collectively outperform and exhibit some combination of the following attractive features: a well-researched asset-allocation approach, a robust process for selecting underlying investments, a well-resourced and experienced investment management team, strong, stable and engaged oversight from the state and low fees. The four key pillars used by Morningstar to evaluate 529 college savings plans include – Process, People, Parent, and Price. For more information about Morningstar’s overview of the Michigan Education Savings Program, go to Morningstar.com. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. compensates Morningstar for the ability to quote these ratings in public communications. Past performance does not predict future results. Source: Morningstar.com. A Morningstar Analyst Rating for a 529 college savings plan is not a credit or risk rating. Analyst ratings are subjective in nature and should not be used as the sole basis for investment decisions.
Neither TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., nor its affiliates, are responsible for the content found on any external website links contained herein.
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