Building a 529 Plan account that is right for you takes planning. The Mississippi Affordable College Savings (MACS) Program offers you a choice of sevent Investment Options. These options vary in their investment strategy and degree of risk, allowing you to select an option or combination of options that may fit your needs.
For more information on the risks involved in investing in such investment options, and the type of investor for whom each investment option may be appropriate, read the Disclosure Booklet.
Changing Your Investments
Once you invest in a particular investment option, you can transfer contributions and any earnings to another investment option once per calendar year or upon a transfer of funds to a MACS Program account for a different beneficiary.
Periodically Review Your Investments
It’s a good idea to periodically re-evaluate your investment strategy as your goals, investment horizon, and personal situation change – for example, annually at tax time, on a yearly basis if your income changes, or upon the birth of another child.
Age-Based Investment Option
Managed Allocation Option
The Managed Allocation Option is the core investment for the MACS program. This option contains nine age bands, each with a unique asset allocation that many include equity, real estate, fixed income, and money market mutual funds. As the beneficiary ages, assets are automatically rolled into new age bands, shifting the investment strategy from capital appreciation in the early years of college saving to capital preservation later on and during the college years. This investment option seeks a reasonable rate of expected return while balancing the various risks of the capital markets.
Because the Managed Allocation Option provides a balanced and diversified investment, many account owners choose it as a single option with the potential for long-term growth. This option is best for an account owner who can invest in the program long-term, but can tolerate some level of risk.
Risk-Based Investment Options
MACS offers six choices for those who prefer to select an Investment Option (or several Investment Options) with a fixed risk level rather than a risk level that changes as the beneficiary ages. Each of these Investment Options invests in mutual funds or in a funding agreement, and each Investment Option has a different investment objective and investment strategy and is subject to different investment risks.
Diversified Equity Option
The Diversified Equity Option offers a mix of domestic and international stock mutual funds. This option may have higher volatility and the opportunity for greater investment return. Given the higher volatility of this option, the risk of loss is greater, particularly for those with a short time to save for college.
Aggressive Allocation Option
The Aggressive Allocation Option seeks a favorable long-term return. This option invests in the same mutual funds and at the same percentages as the Managed Allocation Option aged band for beneficiaries aged 0-4 years of age. This option invests in mutual funds that invest primarily in equity securities and, to a lesser extent, in mutual funds that invest primarily in debt securities.
Aggressive Investor Profile
Although stocks can produce above-average long-term returns, they do not perform well in every type of market. Therefore, aggressive investment options may be a suitable choice for account owners who can tolerate greater risk and volatility in exchange for higher potential returns over time. They may also be appropriate for investors with additional college savings in less volatile investments (e.g., fixed income), longer time periods until expected withdrawals, or for those who wish to create a balanced account, for example, by combining the Diversified Equity Option with the more conservative Guaranteed Option.
Fixed Income Option
Contributions to the Fixed Income Option are allocated to a diversified mix of fixed-income mutual funds. The underlying mutual funds within this option are primarily indexed.
Moderate Allocation Option
The Moderate Allocation Option seeks moderate growth. This option invests in the same mutual funds and at the same percentages as the Managed Allocation Option age band for beneficiaries aged 9-10 years. This option invests in mutual funds that invest primarily in equity securities and in mutual funds that invest primarily in debt securities.
The Fixed Income Option and the Moderate Allocation Option are appropriate for investors with a medium-term savings horizon who can tolerate a moderate level of risk.
Conservative Allocation Option
The Conservative Allocation Option seeks a conservative to moderate total return. This option invests in the same mutual funds and at the same percentages as the Managed Allocation Option age band for 15 year-old beneficiaries. This Investment Option invests in mutual funds that invest primarily in debt securities and, to a lesser extent, in mutual funds that invest primarily in equity securities.
The Guaranteed Option
Contributions to the Guaranteed Option are allocated to a funding agreement that guarantees the Mississippi Affordable College Savings Trust Fund both principal and minimum annual rate of return, with the opportunity for additional returns beyond the minimum rate. This option provides additional safety and security that investors may want for a portion of their college investment.
The conservative investment options provide the stability that many people want for at least a portion of their college savings funds. These options are appropriate for investors who can tolerate little risk, including those who have traditionally saved using fixed-income vehicles and are willing to accept returns that may be lower than those offered by the other, more aggressive investment options. Investors with shorter investment time frames may find this option appealing. Investors who want a balanced account may combine a conservative option with a more aggressive option (e.g., Diversified Equity Option.)