By: Idaho Treasurer Julie Ellsworth

As Treasurer of the great state of Idaho, I know how important it is to make smart financial decisions and to save for the future. Saving for education should be part of everyone’s personal financial plan, and IDeal – Idaho’s 529 education savings plan – has been helping families save in a tax-advantaged way for more than 20 years. 

As a mother and a grandmother, I have big dreams for my kids and grandkids. I want them to be able to get the education that will allow them to pursue whatever their dreams for the future may be without the burden of considerable student loan debt. All families want the same thing for their loved ones – opportunities as well as the ability and money to pursue those opportunities.

Education costs continue to increase every year. So whether our loved ones want to be a doctor, a farmer,  a teacher, a welder, or the next Idaho State Treasurer— they’re going to need to pursue an education after high school. Fortunately, Idaho’s 529 can be used not only at colleges and universities across the country, but the funds can also be used for K-12 education, trade/technical school, or a registered apprenticeship. And, if a student does take on debt for education, Idaho’s 529 can be used to pay off student loans as well (up to $10,000 lifetime).

Idaho Treasurer Julie Ellsworth

Beyond personal savings, Idaho’s 529 program also helps employers attract and retain talent. As one of the country’s fastest-growing states, we are experiencing the same workforce challenges as many other parts of the country. Research has shown that offering payroll direct deposit to a 529 is a valued employee benefit and helps employees save up to 75 percent more.1 And Idaho is one of only a few states that offer a tax credit to employers who contribute to an employee’s Idaho 529 – a 20 percent credit up to $500 per employee per year.

People are often intimidated by investing and financial planning, so at IDeal, we make the process as straightforward and easy as possible. Saving through a 529 doesn’t need to be intimidating and works for everyone. Just a little money put aside on a regular basis can potentially grow into a fund to support a student’s dream. It’s never too late to start, but the sooner a family starts saving, the more potential the investment has to grow. Investing in a 529 is an investment in a bright future.

We want all Idaho families to take advantage of the benefits of our IDeal 529 program and actively plan so that their kids, grandkids, or loved ones can pursue their dreams for the future. For more information, visit our website at

1ISS Market Intelligence 529 Industry Analysis, May 2019

Idaho’s 529 features a variety of tax advantages:

• Idahoans get a state income tax deduction of up to $6,000 for single filers – or $12,000 for couples filing jointly – per year from adjusted gross income for contributions. One of the most generous in the country.1

• Any Idaho taxpayer can receive the tax deduction for contributions. You don’t have to be the account holder. 

• The plan offers tax-deferred earnings and tax-free withdrawals for qualified expenses.2

1 Contributions to the IDeal – Idaho College Savings Program are deductible from Idaho state income tax, subject to recapture in certain circumstances, such as a non-qualified withdrawal or a rollover to another state’s qualified tuition program in the year of the rollover and the prior tax year.
2 Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals are subject to federal income tax and may be subject to a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.

For more information about the Idaho College Savings Program (“IDeal”), call 866-433-2533 or visit to obtain a Disclosure Statement. The Disclosure Statement discusses investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information. Because investing in IDeal is an important decision for you and your family, you should read and consider the Disclosure Statement carefully before investing. 

Before you invest, consider whether your or the beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in that state’s qualified tuition program. 

IDeal is administered by the State College Savings Program Board (“Board”). Ascensus Broker Dealer Services, LLC, the Program Manager, and its affiliates, have overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations, including investment advisory, recordkeeping and administrative services. The Vanguard Group, Inc. (“Vanguard”) serves as Investment Manager for IDeal. Sallie Mae Bank serves as the Savings Portfolio Manager for IDeal. IDeal’s Portfolios invest in either: (i) mutual funds and a separate account offered or managed by Vanguard; or (ii) an FDIC-insured omnibus savings account held in trust by the Board at Sallie Mae Bank. Except for the Savings Portfolio, investments in IDeal are not insured by the FDIC. Units of the Portfolios are municipal securities and the value of units will vary with market conditions.

Investment returns will vary depending upon the performance of the Portfolios you choose. Except to the extent of FDIC insurance available for the Savings Portfolio, you could lose all or a portion of your money by investing in IDeal, depending on market conditions. Account Owners assume all investment risks as well as responsibility for any federal and state tax consequences.

Not FDIC-Insured (except for the Savings Portfolio).No Bank, State or Federal Guarantee.May Lose Value.