Alaska’s education savings program, a benefit to UA and its employees

January 19, 2023

About Education Trust of Alaska and Alaska 529:

529s, also known as education savings plans, college savings plans, and qualified tuition programs, are offered by states and housed within treasurer’s offices, state agencies, universities, or higher education authorities. In the early days of 529 plans, Alaska’s legislature decided to house Alaska’s education savings program, offered under the umbrella of the Education Trust of Alaska (Trust), within the University of Alaska system (UA). UA already offered a pre-paid tuition program and had professional expertise at the forefront of the rapidly changing 529 landscape. Since 529 accounts were vehicles for college savings, they provided a perfect bridge to the University of Alaska for Alaska’s families! 

Since then, Alaska 529, the Trust plan marketed directly to Alaskans, has offered a premier education savings tool with a mission to equip individuals with an affordable and flexible approach to investing in future education. Alaska 529 accounts grow in a tax-advantaged environment and offer convenient, age-based investment options, where portfolios become more conservative as a child approaches enrollment. Static investment options (that keep the same allocation over time) are also available, including the University of Alaska Portfolio

Benefiting the University of Alaska:

The University of Alaska Portfolio offers a tuition value guarantee (TVG) if used at the University of Alaska. The TVG is a supplemental contribution made by the Trust to compensate for any earnings shortfall over tuition inflation. The University of Alaska Portfolio is the preferred investment option for approximately 22% of Alaska 529 account holders and predisposes beneficiaries to enroll within the UA system. 

The Trust has rolled out a comprehensive communications campaign to non-resident 529 beneficiaries in its three 529 plans. The plan invites beneficiaries across the country to consider attending a university within the University of Alaska system. The campaign targets near-enrollment beneficiaries ages 15-19 with grade-relevant resources and communications sent each quarter from 9th through 12th grade. Account holders and beneficiaries who have held an account for two or more years in any of the Trust's 529 plans can qualify for in-state tuition at any location in the University of Alaska system. They can also be eligible for an application fee waiver.

Participants enrolled in plans offered by the Trust spend roughly $20,000,000 at the universities each year. 

Though the Trust is a catalyst for enrollment at UA, accounts can be used for various qualified expenses and to attend vocational/technical, apprenticeship programs, colleges/universities, graduate programs, and continuing education nationwide.  

Benefiting UA Employees: 

As an employee at the University of Alaska, you might believe you don’t need to worry about saving for postsecondary education. The UA employee tuition waiver is a fantastic benefit. Yet, it’s important to remember that tuition is only one part of UA's overall cost of attendance.

  • All UA employees can open and contribute to Alaska 529 accounts using Direct Deposit.
  • UA employees have the added benefit of the Alaska 529 team located at the University of Alaska in the Butrovich Building on the Troth Yeddha’ campus and in the Bragaw Building in Anchorage. 
  • Employees can call or schedule a virtual speaker for a department staff meeting. 

Incentivizing Saving in Alaska: 

Launched in April 2022, the Dash to Save™ and Dash to Save More™ programs offer unique benefits not found elsewhere in the United States. Specifically, qualifying new Alaska 529 accounts opened this year with a minimum investment of $25 will be gifted an additional $250. Alaska 529 will also pitch in up to $100 annually to accounts with automatic monthly contributions and/or payroll direct deposits. These generous programs and the existing tax benefits of 529 can help you grow your account. 

Saving a PFD:

For more than 32 years, Alaska 529 has partnered with the Alaska Department of Revenue, PFD Division, to include a voluntary election on the PFD application directing 50% of the applicant’s PFD to one or more Alaska 529 accounts. The Alaska 529 website features a PFD planning tool, step-by-step instructions for saving part or all of a PFD, and information about the annual $25,000 scholarship account giveaway. 

For a quick overview of how saving with Alaska 529 can help you reach your future goals, view our informative Alaska 529 Advantages infographic. 

For more information, contact: or call 907-474-5671.