How the PA 529 GSP Works

The PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan lets you save for tomorrow's college expenses at today's plan rates – without worrying about the ups and downs of the stock market. If you save enough for a semester at one of the state universities today, you'll have enough for a semester at that school in the future – no matter when or how much tuition has gone up in the meantime.

The Pennsylvania Treasury Department does the investing work for you, placing money in the GSP Fund, a separate fund established for the PA 529 GSP by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Regardless of how these investments perform, your account growth, when used for qualified college expenses, is based on tuition increases.  This means that the Fund, not you, assumes the risk for covering tuition inflation increases. Any growth is subject to a maturity period.*

  • How much should I save? The PA 529 GSP helps you know how much you need to save, and how close you are to your goal, by choosing a tuition level when you enroll. You may choose from five different levels, including Pennsylvania community colleges, state universities and private colleges.

    But you're not locked in – you can change the tuition level at any time. Whenever a change is made, your contributions are recalculated as if the new tuition level had been in effect since you opened your account. Most often the recalculation will change both your earnings rate and the dollar value of your account available to pay for qualified higher education expenses.

  • GSP Tuition Credits. Each time you make a contribution, it's divided by the GSP credit rate for the tuition level you've selected, and the number of GSP credits accumulates. For most four-year colleges, 96 GSP credits will cover four years of tuition; for community colleges, you would generally need 60 GSP credits for an associate degree.  For example, if you saved enough for six GSP credits each year at one tuition level, in 16 years you would have 96 GSP credits at that tuition level – enough to cover four years of tuition on average. Some GSP credit rates include a premium to make sure the fund can meet its obligations.See current GSP Credit Rates for each tuition level.

How Much Should I Save?

Average Tuition Levels Actual Credit Rate Actual Semester Rate GSP Credit Rate GSP Semester Rate
Community College
2013-2014 $111.16 N/A $111.16 N/A
2008-2009 $85.54 N/A $85.54 N/A
PA State System of Higher Education
2013-2014 $275.92 $3,311.04 $275.92 $3,311.04
2008-2009 $223.25 $2679.00 $223.25 $2,679.00
State-Related University
2013-2014 $635.17 $7,622.04 $673.28 $8,079.36
2008-2009 $518.80 $6,225.60 $518.80 $6,225.60
Private 4-year College
2013-2014 $1,267.89 $15,214.68 $1,267.89 $15,214.68
2008-2009 $1,006.63 $12,079.56 $1,006.63 $12,079.56
Ivy League University
2013-2014 $1,800.44 $21,605.28 $1,800.44 $21,605.28
2008-2009 $1,474.70 $17,696.40 $1,474.70 $17,696.40

This chart shows some of the most popular actual and GSP tuition rates now and 5 years ago. You can see today's costs as well as the growth at each level. For example, if a contribution of $5,902.32 (the GSP semester credit rate) at the State-Related University Average tuition level had been made 5 years ago it would be worth $7,415.40 (the actual semester rate) now. (Past performance is not an indication of future results.)

Not everyone can save enough to cover the full cost of college. But whatever you save now will reduce what you have to pay or borrow later.

  • The Guarantee of the GSP. When you use your account for qualified expenses, the growth on your contributions is based on tuition increases, not on the GSP Fund's investment performance. The tuition level when your account is used (pay-out tuition level) determines your account value. For more information about the guarantee and how your account grows, please read the PA 529 GSP Disclosure Statement.

Features & Benefits

The PA 529 GSP helps families save for college in a way that works for them.

  • Easy to set up. You can open an account with as little as $15 and make minimum contributions of $15 whenever you want. Payroll deduction and automatic investing plans make saving even easier. Either the account owner or the beneficiary must be a Pennsylvania resident at the time the account is opened.

  • Use your account at most colleges and career schools. You can use your PA 529 at most colleges, universities and community colleges, as well as graduate, career and technical schools in the U.S. and abroad. Visit fafsa.ed.gov to see eligible schools.

  • Pay for more than just tuition. You can use your PA 529 GSP account to pay for tuition, certain room and board costs, required books and supplies, fees and special needs services. See Qualified Higher Education Expenses.

  • Access your account. Manage your account securely online anytime or call the PA 529 GSP to speak to a savings specialist at 1-800-440-4000.

  • No income restrictions. It doesn't matter what your income is.

  • Anyone can contribute. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends can all help cover the cost of your child's college education.

  • It's affordable. There is a one-time enrollment fee of $50, discounted to just $25 if you enroll online. Additional enrollment discounts may be available through your employer or your child's school. And, the enrollment fee is waived if an account is opened within six months of a child's birth or adoption.

  • Low fees. An account maintenance fee of 0.11% is deducted quarterly (approximately 0.44% per year, capped at $500 annually). The fee may be reduced to 0.0875% quarterly (approximately 0.35% per year, capped at $250 annually) by selecting to receive all account statements and notices via email. The fee may be paid separately to maintain account balances and GSP credits.

  • More ways to save. By signing up for free programs, such as Upromise, Ugift or SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards, you can earn cash rewards and tuition discounts to make your college savings grow faster. See Additional Ways to Save.

  • Tax benefits. Put your money in… take a deduction. Watch it grow… tax deferred. Take it out… tax free. Saving with the PA 529 GSP can reduce your taxes and insure your child's future. Learn more about income tax benefits and gift, estate and inheritance tax benefits.

Enrollment Guide >>

Disclosure Statement >>

2013-14 Credit Rate Schedule >>

2014-15 Credit Rate Schedule >>

GSP Actuarial Report >>

PA 529 Annual Report >>

Contact Us

Call

1-800-440-4000

Email

pa529@patreasury.gov

Glossary of Terms

Learn about financial lingo

*In order for the growth on contribution to be used for qualified withdrawals, a "maturity period" ranging from approximately nine months to approximately eighteen months must elapse from the date that the contribution was made to the time the contribution was withdrawn to pay qualified higher education expenses. Please see the PA 529 GSP Disclosure Statement for more information.

The guarantee of the PA 529 GSP is an obligation of the GSP Fund, not the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or any state agency. Before investing, please carefully read the PA 529 GSP Disclosure Statement to learn more about the plan including limitations of the guarantee, risks, fees, premiums, and tax implications of the PA 529 GSP.