my529 turns 25

In 2021, my529 celebrates 25 years of helping families across the country prepare and invest for future qualified higher education expenses.

A Hollywood beginning

my529’s origin story is the stuff of movies, involving a kid with a vision for something better and the courage to see it through.

Thirty years ago, when Doug Peterson was a junior at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, he wrote a paper for one of his classes proposing a solution for the financial difficulties that he and his peers were facing while attending college.

“[I was] struggling to manage school, a job and worrying about paying for all the education I wanted. I also saw my classmates either struggling with balancing work and classwork, or building up debt,” Peterson said.

At that time, Peterson was a student member of the Weber State Board of Trustees. He said that projections on the rising costs of education left him concerned for future students.

A year later as a student member of the State Board of Regents, Peterson presented his idea to higher education officials. Together, they drafted a concept for a college savings program.

While a 25-year-old college senior, Peterson was elected to the Utah House of Representatives. In 1994, he introduced a bill for the savings plan. Other state leaders joined the cause, and the Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) was founded in 1996. Congress laid the groundwork for such plans that same year.

“I firmly felt that creating the right opportunity to save and invest was a key part of the solution,” Peterson said.

Forging a path in a new industry, UESP started with one investment option, the Public Treasurers’ Investment Fund, managed by the Utah State Treasurer’s Office. The plan finished the first year with 157 accounts and $154,000 in assets under management.

A new name

Over the years, UESP grew to include account owners in every state. In 2018, UESP began doing business under the name my529. The new name better reflects the national reach of the plan.

Planning for the future

What Peterson dreamed of for a school assignment has made a difference for thousands of families, and is now making a difference for his own.

Peterson’s five children all have my529 accounts, and his three college-age children are now using their my529 funds to pay for higher education.

my529 at 25

Twenty-five years—and one name change—later, the Utah plan that started with 157 accounts is now at the top of the industry. A college kid’s dream is respected nationwide.

  • 455,757 accounts
  • $18.67 billion in assets under management

(As of March 24, 2021)

my529 investment options through the years

 

1996—The Utah Educational Savings Plan (now my529) was established with one investment option, the Public Treasurers’ Investment Fund.

1998—Added mutual funds from The Vanguard Group.

1999—Introduced Age-Based and Static investment options.

2009—Offered the FDIC-Insured investment option.

2010—Presented the Customized Static investment option.

2011—Launched the Customized Age-Based investment option.

2013—Added Dimensional Fund Advisors funds to underlying funds.

2018—Enhanced principal preservation offerings with a stable value fund, the PIMCO Interest Income Fund.

2018—Retired the legacy Public Treasurers’ Investment Fund.

2021—Expanded Static investment options to 10; my529 investment options now total 16.

 

Update for final version