Fidelity Investments has added a Bank Deposit Portfolio to its five direct-sold 529 college savings plans: New Hampshire’s UNIQUE College Investing Plan, California’s ScholarShare College Savings Plan, Massachusetts’ U.Fund College Investing Plan, the Delaware College Investment Plan and the Fidelity Arizona College Savings Plan.

The account is an FDIC-insured, interest-bearing Negotiable Order of Withdrawal account, meaning that checks can be written against it. The option rounds out Fidelity’s 529 Conservative Portfolio and Index Conservative Portfolio, which both invest in money market, short term and other fixed income investments. The 529 Money Market Portfolio is also available; it invests in short-term debt obligations such as U.S. Treasury bills and certificates of deposit.

“While the vast majority of our participants continue to look to Fidelity to help guide their investments through our popular age-based portfolios, some investors are looking for a broader range of conservative investments options with FDIC insurance,” said Joe Ciccariello, vice president, college planning, at Fidelity. “The addition of the Bank Deposit Portfolio offers an additional investment option that may help meet the goals of a larger group of investors.”

Meanwhile, Vanguard announced Tuesday that effective Oct. 15, it will lower the all-in cost of the age-based options in its Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan, sponsored by the state of Nevada, from 44 basis points to 25 basis points. The cost of Vanguard’s 19 other options have been reduced from between 44 BPS and 77 BPS to 25 BPS and 55 BPS.

All told, more than 100,00 clients will be able to save $8.5 million annually as a result of these price reductions, Vanguard estimated.

“It’s important to keep investment costs low in your college savings plan, as every dollar lost to expenses puts you a dollar further from your college savings goals,” said Vanguard Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb.

Vanguard said it was able to pass along the price reductions since assets in the plan have surpassed $4.5 billion, and that the 529 investment options it offers in 26 states’ other plans have also seen recent price reductions. Most recently, Vanguard partnered with College Savings Iowa to reduce its all-in plan expenses by one-third. In August, New York’s 529 Direct Plan, the nation’s largest direct-sold 529 plan, cut its expense ratios by half.

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