The economic downturn hasn't stopped the Minnesota College Savings Plan from growing. Assets in the 529 plan rose 25.3 percent to $698.2 million in the fourth quarter 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.

The vast majority of the funds are still invested in the age-based options, followed by the all-percent equity option and the guaranteed return option.

However, contributions to new and existing accounts in 2009 were down 15.5 percent compared with 2008.

When the plan negotiated a new agreement with TIAA-CREF in 2009, the fees dropped slightly and now range from 0.51 to 0.61 percent.

And unlike some plans that tweaked their investment mix after double-digit losses in late 2008 and early 2009, Minnesota made only minor asset allocation changes to its mix, said plan manager Renee Hill. For example, only 15 percent of the age-weighted option for teens heading off to college was invested in stocks before and after the stock market's tumble.

For more information about the Minnesota 529 plan, visit www.mnsaves.org. To compare this plan with others nationwide, visit www.savingforcollege.com.

Source: Minnesota Office of Higher Education