Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Plan: Free $25 To Start

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The Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan is again offering a $25 refer-a-friend bonus if you open an account and deposit at least $25 by June 30, 2010. You can be a resident of any state, and there are no application or annual fees.

Rated a Top 529 Plan by Morningstar
In a recent article The Best and Worst 529 College-Savings Plans by Morningstar, the Ohio CollegeAdvantage plan was rated in the top 5 plans:

Features they liked included having a wide variety of investment options (including active/passive, multiple age-based options, and even ultra-safe CDs), as well as low total expenses. In-state resident can also deduct up to $2,000 of contributions per year, with excess carryover allowed.

My Personal Experience
So far, I am quite impressed with the Ohio plan. The website itself is functional and fast, there are a variety of investment choices (cash, index funds, active funds), they are upfront with the fees, and the expenses are very competitive – either the lowest or near the lowest in the nation. There are no inactivity fees, minimum balance fees, or other bogus fees.

I have gotten the $25 bonuses plus several referrals, with no complaints from the people I referred. I have also started an auto-debit from my checking account for $50 a month. Right now, half of my 529 is in the Vanguard inflation-protected bond fund. This is an investment option that is unavailable in most state plans. I did an analysis of conservative inflation-linked 529 investment options here.

I feel that since college is only at most 18 years away with a big lump-sum payment, I would prefer less volatility while marching towards that goal. This is in contrast to saving for retirement, where I currently have 35 years until I turn 65, and hopefully another 20 years after that as well.

Referral Bonus Instructions
Currently the newly referred person gets $25, and the referring person gets $50, and I’d love for you to help fund my kid’s college dreams. 😀 Here’s how:

  1. You can enroll online or via mail. The online process was quick and easy, and I didn’t have to mail in anything.
  2. The first step is to input your personal info and choose a login/password. Next, you’ll verify your e-mail and complete the application.
  3. After that, you’ll choose your funding amount and select an investment fund. Your initial deposit must be a least $25, and is funded using the account/routing numbers of your bank account. At the bottom, you will need to enter a referral code to get the bonus. Enter 2439350.
  4. In 1-3 days, your initial deposit will be taken from your bank account, and in 5-7 business days you will get your $25 bonus. The $25 will be deposited directly into the 529 account, and will be invested in the same thing as your initial deposit.

If a child has two parents, one parent may sign-up and then refer the 2nd parent to get another bonus, while both can list the same child as the beneficiary. If your child is not born yet or does not have a Social Security number yet, you can choose yourself or another family member as the beneficiary, and then later on fill out a Change of Beneficiary form.

Here is a screenshot of me getting my $25 bonus successfully and as promised:

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  1. Thanks for the information. I’ve used your referral code; so, you’ll be that much closer to your goal.

    Do I need to wait for the materials to come before I can start referring other people?

  2. MakingItWorkNJ says

    @Sechs, I don’t think so. I did get my materials last week, but I am doing all of my deposits electronically. The one thing that irks me about CollegeAdvantage (and I plan on writing something to them when time permits) is that your automatic deposits are determined by a day of the month (1-28, because of February), as opposed to most other places that will let you do it by frequency of weekly, monthly, every other week (my preference). So to insure this, I have (for now) $50 divided up in three funds (2 “safe” and 1 “equity”) going on the 28th of every month coming from my savings as it is adequately funded. I did this after I got Jon’s $25 for using his refferal. I figure after 18-22 I’ll have hopefully enough for at least the first year at a decent school. But I do like the fact they have Vanguard funds, and those are what I invest in both with this and my Roth.

    But you can start referring people from the moment your account is created. A friend of mine is just getting married, shotgun style, so I plan on referring him plus give $100 to fund it if he uses my refferal.

  3. Thanks for the detailed step by step information. Used your referral code and your referral bonus is on the way. Quick question, should I use my account number to start referring others?

  4. Thx, you should have gotten a referral from my new account as well.


  5. Thanks Jonathan – I was waiting for this to be on again 🙂

  6. Used your referral code. Thanks.

  7. MakingItWorkNJ says

    Hey Jonathan, did you make enough referrals to send your kids to Harvard? 😛

    Thanks again…I have ~ $250 so far from the autodebits, and $25 referral.

  8. I used your referral code. Thank You.

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