Skip to Content
ETF Specialist

College-Savings Plans Get ETF Fever

ETFs push into 529 plans.

Exchange-traded funds are gaining wide acceptance with investors, often serving as more tax-efficient and cheaper alternatives to actively managed mutual funds. As such, ETFs are increasingly being included in 529 college-savings plans. Sixteen plans now include at least one ETF option, up from just a handful a few years ago.

The plans are adding ETFs for a variety of reasons, often with a goal of cutting costs, attracting assets, or outperforming actively managed competitors. While the plan sponsors have high hopes these relatively new investments will attract interest from investors, college savers seem less certain. Arkansas, one of the first states to start using ETFs in its plan, has struggled to attract assets to its iShares 529 plan. And while some states are busy launching new ETF-based lineups to market to registered investment advisors, it's unclear whether RIAs will be willing to switch assets from their current plan to an unproven option. Let's take a look at how these investments affect college savers and which plans are getting into the ETF action.

Transparency is how we protect the integrity of our work and keep empowering investors to achieve their goals and dreams. And we have unwavering standards for how we keep that integrity intact, from our research and data to our policies on content and your personal data.

We’d like to share more about how we work and what drives our day-to-day business.

We sell different types of products and services to both investment professionals and individual investors. These products and services are usually sold through license agreements or subscriptions. Our investment management business generates asset-based fees, which are calculated as a percentage of assets under management. We also sell both admissions and sponsorship packages for our investment conferences and advertising on our websites and newsletters.

How we use your information depends on the product and service that you use and your relationship with us. We may use it to:

  • Verify your identity, personalize the content you receive, or create and administer your account.
  • Provide specific products and services to you, such as portfolio management or data aggregation.
  • Develop and improve features of our offerings.
  • Gear advertisements and other marketing efforts towards your interests.

To learn more about how we handle and protect your data, visit our privacy center.

Maintaining independence and editorial freedom is essential to our mission of empowering investor success. We provide a platform for our authors to report on investments fairly, accurately, and from the investor’s point of view. We also respect individual opinions––they represent the unvarnished thinking of our people and exacting analysis of our research processes. Our authors can publish views that we may or may not agree with, but they show their work, distinguish facts from opinions, and make sure their analysis is clear and in no way misleading or deceptive.

To further protect the integrity of our editorial content, we keep a strict separation between our sales teams and authors to remove any pressure or influence on our analyses and research.

Read our editorial policy to learn more about our process.