Michigan unveils newly minted alliance to earn cash back for college

Partnership now offers cash-back rewards for Michigan families saving for college

published December 12, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — Under a new partnership announced today, Michigan families can leverage their everyday purchases into college savings for their children and grandchildren similar to earning cash back for gas or groceries.

The partnership between the Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP) and Upromise, a leading consumer brand, offers a free rewards program designed to help families save for college.

“It is not often we get an opportunity like this to promote a program that turns an ordinary shopping trip into cash for college — talk about bargain shopping,” said Diane Brewer, Michigan Education Trust executive director. “The state of Michigan continues to make clearing barriers to higher education a top priority and we are confident promoting Upromise in Michigan will strengthen that effort.”

Brewer’s office, within the Michigan Department of Treasury, oversees MESP — a state-sponsored, tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan created in 2000 to help Michiganders save for higher education.

With the cost of college increasing at a faster rate than inflation, Brewer says that MESP provides families the ability to invest and grow their savings not only over the long term but also in a more tax-favorable manner.

“Upromise augments that savings by offering a simple, free and almost effortless dividend for a child’s future educational needs,” Brewer said. “Any time you eat out, buy groceries, fill your gas tank or make just about any routine purchase, Upromise will add to your college savings plan at no additional cost to you.”

Derek DeLorenzo, senior director for Upromise 529 programs, pointed to the program’s success across the nation as, likely, evidence that it will grow in Michigan.

“Upromise has been highly successful in other states, and we are extremely excited to expand it in Michigan,” DeLorenzo said. “We look forward to continuing our mission to invest in higher education in Michigan and throughout the country.”

To learn more about the program or to enroll, please contact, MISaves.com/upromise22.

Brewer encouraged parents, grandparents and guardians to put their money to work in an MESP account for a child or grandchild.

Managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing Inc. on behalf of the Michigan Department of Treasury, MESP has more than 299,000 accounts with total assets exceeding $6.6 billion.

MESP contributions can be placed in a variety of investment options, where they grow tax-deferred and then can be withdrawn tax-free for qualified education expenses.

The savings program can be used at any eligible college, university or trade school in the nation for a variety of qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, certain room and board costs, books, supplies and equipment required for enrollment.

Ranked among the nation’s best state-administered 529 college savings programs over the past decade, MESP has earned silver and gold ratings from Morningstar each year since 2012.1

Program Administrator, Michigan Department of Treasury.


  1. 1In 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. 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.
  2. To learn more about the Michigan Education Savings Program, its investment objectives, tax benefits, risks and costs, please see the Program Description at MIsaves.com. Read it carefully. Investments in the Program are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is the risk of investment loss. 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.
  3. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Member FINRA, distributor and underwriter for the Michigan Education Savings Program.


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