Money Still Available for Foster Youth to Pursue Higher Education

Ten days remain before application deadline

The application period for the new ASPIRE529 program, which provides $529 for foster youth aging out of the system to use for expenses related to continuing their education, closes July 31, 2022.

“Many young adults face a lot of financial obstacles as they head out into the ‘real world’ for the first time,” said Delaware State Treasurer Colleen Davis. “Those aging out of foster care often face additional struggles related to things like housing and health care. How to pay for education shouldn’t be an extra burden.”

Up to 20 awards of $529 are available on a first-come, first-served basis following review and approval of applications by the Office of the State Treasurer.

To be eligible for an award, a student must:

  • Be under age 26, and:
    • At least 14 years old and currently in Department of Services for Children, Youth, & Their Families (DSCYF) Custody (foster care); or
    • Exited DSCYF Custody to adoption or guardianship at the age of 16 years or older; or
    • Aged out of foster care in Delaware at age 18.
  • Complete a current-year Delaware Aspire529 application prior to the deadline. (July 31st)
  • Be a Delaware resident.
  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or approved refugee.
  • Be an undergraduate student.
  • Show proof of enrollment or attendance at an institution of higher learning or trade school, AND if already attending, must be making satisfactory academic or vocational progress toward completion of that program. Proof of enrollment or attendance can be requested through your school’s registrar or administrative offices.

In addition to the $529, recipients will receive two private financial coaching sessions thanks to a partnership with $tand By Me®.

The online application can be found at de.gov/aspire529.


May 29th is 529 Day

A day to recognize the importance of saving for education

As thousands of Delaware families prepare to celebrate high school graduations, many pair that joy with fear about how to pay for college.

State Treasurer Colleen Davis reminds Delawareans that a DE529 account can alleviate that fear and that 529 Day is a perfect time to start saving.

“Almost 10 percent of all Delawareans have student loans averaging more than $37,000,” Treasurer Davis said. “Each year it becomes harder and harder for families to afford a quality education without setting themselves up for years of student loan payments but enrolling in the DE529 Education Savings Plan can help.”

The DE529 Education Savings Plan provides a tax-advantaged program for Delawareans. Money from DE529 accounts can be used at almost all accredited colleges and universities nationwide and many vocational or technical schools for a wide range of qualified education costs. Money grows tax free, plus, withdrawals for qualified education expenses like tuition, fees, and books are federal and Delaware income tax-free.

“Section 529 of the internal revenue code allows for tax advantaged education savings programs, and that’s why May 29th became 529 Day,” Davis said. “The more we raise awareness of the DE529 Education Savings Plan, the more people we help, and thankfully, the message is working.”

New accounts in the DE529 Education Savings Plan reached almost 2,100 in 2021, an increase of 9% over the previous year. Contributions to DE529 accounts totaled $64.8 million in 2021, with deposits in December alone accounting for $6.89 million, the highest monthly total since 2016.

A new law awaiting the Governor’s signature could help Delawareans save even more. Sponsored by Rep. Krista Griffith and Sen. Trey Paradee, House Bill 145 creates a tax credit of up to $1,000 for contributions to a DE529 account. The bill received approval of the legislature in March. Additionally, members of the Delaware General Assembly officially declared May 29th “Delaware 529 Day” with the passage of HCR 83 earlier this month.

Continuing to make people aware of the benefits of saving with a DE529 account is a main focus of 529 Day, and that includes children.

“Engaging young people not only educates them, but also engages creativity, helping them to be prepared to thrive in their future,” Treasurer Davis said. “Our DE529 Education Savings Plan similarly builds a bright future for young people by helping them become college and career ready financially. We are proud to partner with the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science to share the importance of combining education and fun for Delaware’s children now that the facility has opened its doors for the first time since the end of 2020.”


Treasurer Davis Named to National Board to Help Families Save for Education

The College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) has nominated and confirmed Delaware State Treasurer Colleen Davis to its Executive Board. An affiliate of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST), the CSPN brings together state officials who administer 529 savings plans which offer federal and state tax benefits for people to save for a child’s education. The group offers convenient tools and objective, unbiased information to help families make informed decisions about education savings.

“The cost of a quality education can take a major toll on families and that’s why I’m honored to be part of a group that can truly help,” said Treasurer Davis. “Our goal is to create awareness, understanding, and use of 529 plans to empower families to save for education.”

Chaired by Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, the CSPN’s strategic priorities include increasing public awareness of the value of saving through 529 plans, preserving and enhancing tax advantages for saving, and advocating for federal regulatory requirements to maintain and improve access and appeal of 529 plans.

“Since her election in 2018, Treasurer Davis has been committed to reducing the burden of student debt through college savings,” said CSPN Chair Michael Frerichs. “We are thrilled to have her join the CSPN Executive Board as we continue working to expand awareness and help more families save through 529 college savings plans.”

Under Treasurer Davis, the Office of the State Treasurer administers Delaware’s College Investment Plan, DE529. The Plan provides tax-advantaged accounts designed to help parents, grandparents and others pay for education expenses, reducing the possibility of debt.

“Delawareans don’t pay any taxes on money as it grows in a DE529 account, plus withdrawals for qualified education expenses like tuition, fees, and books are federal and Delaware income tax-free, and many are reaping its benefits,” Davis said. “As of the third quarter of 2020, the number of new DE529 accounts increased 21% over the previous year, with total assets jumping by $21-million.”

In addition to almost all accredited colleges and universities nationwide, funds from DE529 accounts can be used at many vocational or technical schools, K-12 programs, and eligible foreign institutions. There is also no minimum investment.


DE529 Sees Improved Education Savings Plan Rating

Morningstar rating increased from Bronze to Silver in 2019

Following assessments and interviews, Morningstar, the nation’s premier plan rating group, has upgraded the DE529 plan from a Bronze to a Silver ranking. Delaware now joins an elite group of 13 Silver-rated plans.

“Through this elevated ranking, the leadership of the Plans Management Board and the hard work of our team are being noticed nation-wide for the service it provides residents,” said Treasurer Davis. “Being able to reduce our fees will make a big difference for participants and prospective plan-holders, and we hope to go for Gold in the future.”

A key component of Delaware’s high score was due to its administration – phasing out more expensive investment selections and adding a new offering of a blended investment option, which allows the accountholder to engage in both active and passive investment management. Additionally, DE529 is one of the lowest-cost educational investment options, and recently reduced administrative fees.

Morningstar conducts annual reviews of 62 plans, analyzing multiple categories within the given plan, as well as its management. Scores indicate a review of the plans’ investment options, management, contracted relationships, investment performance, and overall price of the plan. Only four plans receive a Gold rating from Morningstar.

Delaware’s 529 is a tax-advantaged savings plan that is available to the public, easy to open, and offer investment options so that savings may grow over time until they are used for associated costs including tuition, books, housing, apprenticeships and more. Learn more at 529.Delaware.Gov.


Fewer Fees for Education Savings with DE529

State continues to have one of the lowest-cost investment plans

Treasurer Colleen C. Davis announced today a reduction in fees for Delaware’s 529 Education Savings Plan. Already one of the nation’s lowest-cost savings plans, the reduction is estimated to save participants nearly $87,000 total each year and further incentivize new account openings in the Delaware plan.

“Helping our residents spend less to save is so important. Education is already expensive, and now participants can keep more of their investment earnings to use towards those costs,” said Treasurer Davis. “With no minimum to open an account, and some of the lowest fees nationwide, we’re working to make sure that people of all income levels can save for a better future.”

Fees vary based on the participant’s investment strategy and are collected to administer the plan. Participants do not need to take any action for the fee reduction, which began October 1.

The number of accounts in the Delaware 529 Plan have grown by 4% over the last three years, outpacing the industry nationwide. Nearly 22,000 accounts in the plan hold more than $686 million in investments.

Delaware’s 529 is a tax-advantaged savings plan that is available to the public, easy to open, and offer investment options so that savings may grow over time until they are used for associated costs including tuition, books, housing, apprenticeships and more. Learn more about at 529.Delaware.Gov.