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Lower Returns for Higher Ed

No matter which way you look at it, a college education — whether at a public or private institution — is expensive. Many parents start saving for their kid’s schooling before the child blows out his first birthday candle. What happens when the conservative investment they have relied on ends up losing money?

That’s what happened to Oregon’s 529 College Savings Plan. Many of the funds in it were billed as safe, conservative investments, but one of the most conservative lost 38 percent of its value in 2008. (Check out this site and download Opp529 Quarterly Performance for specifics).This dropped Oregon’s 529 plan from eighth best out of 47 states in 2007 — to 43rd a year later.

Now the state attorney general, John Kroger, is investigating the fund. And, today, the House education committee is holding an informational meeting on the Fund.

Following recommendations from state treasurer, Ben Westlund, the College Savings Board JUST decided to withdraw all plan assets from two specific Funds, restructure the program, and increase oversight and increase options for Oregon’s families. He’s exploring the options of prepaid tuition (possibly like Washington’s GET program) and an age-based portfolio.

What are you doing to save for your child’s education? Are you one of the 70,000 people saving for college in Oregon’s 529 College Savings Plan? If so, I dare ask, how much have you lost? Who do you think should be held responsible for the losses? How will those impact your child’s future?


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