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Have mutual fund questions? We've got answers.

Find answers to your most common mutual fund questions.


Mutual funds offer you a diversified investment vehicle without requiring a great deal of money. Your investment and those of other investors with similar objectives are pooled to purchase securities.

A professional manager closely monitors the securities held within a fund portfolio to determine if they're meeting the objective of that fund. They buy and sell securities in an effort to get the best return for investors while maintaining that objective. There's usually a fee charged by fund companies for the manager's services. Those fees are normally a fraction of what it would cost you to make stock or bond purchases independently. See the prospectus for complete information regarding fees.

Selecting a mutual fund is easy with these three steps:

  1. Determine your investment goal.
  2. Establish the amount of risk you're willing to take to achieve this goal.
  3. Identify funds with investment objectives in line with your risk-tolerance level.

Yes. Although diversification may help your portfolio, it doesn't assure a profit or protect against loss in a declining market. Over-diversification can dilute your investment results and hinder progress towards achieving your goals.

You need to find a balance between returns and risk with a select number of funds appropriate for your personal financial needs.

Yes. An easy way to do this is through a periodic investment plan. You can take advantage of an investment strategy known as dollar-cost averaging.

During a volatile market period, it's important to remain focused on your long-term investment goals. There's always market risk involved when investing, including possible loss of principal. The resources on these pages may help you understand the benefits of diversifying your portfolio and making regular investments over a long period of time. Although no investment program cannot ensure a profit, a long-term plan may ease uncertainty created by market changes.

Investing is not a one-time event. As your needs and goals change, you need to shift assets from one type of fund to another. For example, when you have over ten years to reach retirement, investing in stock funds makes sense because you have time to ride out the market's ups and downs. But within ten years of retirement, you might want to invest in more stable bond funds.

Retirement and rollovers

You can make annual contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA from January 1 through the tax-filing deadline (excluding extensions) for the contribution year. For example, 2024 contributions can be made from January 1, 2025 through April 15, 2025.

If you can be disciplined about investing for retirement, you'll have the opportunity to accumulate money over time and be better prepared for your retirement years. If you develop a mindset of paying yourself in addition to paying your bills, you should have a steady flow of money working for you.

Without a beneficiary, your IRA assets will generally pass to your estate upon your death. The assets could be subject to potential delays and expenses associated with settling an estate and distribution options allowed by federal income tax law may be limited.

A transfer is a movement of funds between like-type plans (e.g., IRA to IRA, SEP to SEP, Roth IRA to Roth IRA).

A rollover is generally a movement of funds from one type of plan (e.g., 401k) to another type of plan (e.g., IRA).

Distribution paperwork is a form that must be submitted to initiate a rollover. The paperwork may be referred to as a distribution election form, direct rollover form, or distribution authorization form. The paperwork may be part of a termination packet received by a participant who is eligible to receive a distribution from a plan.

Most custodians require the participant to call to request distribution paperwork. Custodians may process rollover requests through Internet forms or phone calls.

Saving for college

529 Savings Plans are higher education savings plan trusts. Through these plans, individuals make investments to save for qualifying higher education costs of beneficiaries. The plans include interests in pooled investment funds under trusts established by states or local governmental entities and higher education savings plan trusts established by states.

A 529 Savings Plan is a program that allows participants to invest in a special account designated for qualified higher education expenses. 529 savings plans offer a rate of return that depends on the performance of the plan's investments. As such, the value of a 529 savings plan account may increase or decrease over time.

A prepaid tuition plan allows parents, grandparents, and others to lock in today's tuition rates. The program will pay out future college tuition at any of the state's eligible colleges or universities (or make a payment to private and out-of-state institutions).

To start an account for a beneficiary, you need to complete an account application and make an initial contribution. Contributions to your account will be invested in shares of the portfolio(s) you choose after deducting any applicable sales charges. Shares can be redeemed from your account to pay for higher education costs of the beneficiary.

If the beneficiary of an account dies or becomes disabled, you are entitled to receive the balance in your account. Investment earnings will be taxed at your ordinary income rate. No federal penalty tax will be assessed and the trust will not assess a contingent deferred sales charge. You may also transfer the balance tax-free to an account for another beneficiary who is a qualified family member.

If your beneficiary elects not to pursue post-secondary education, you may either transfer the account balance to an account for another beneficiary who is a qualified family member or withdraw the principal and investment earnings in a non-qualified withdrawal.

Contributions over the applicable limit will not knowingly be accepted. However, if it's determined that contributions are over the limit, the excess and any earnings or losses attributed to the excess are refunded and treated as a non-qualified withdrawal that may be subject to a 10% federal penalty tax. No contingent deferred sales charge is assessed by the servicing agent.

Institutions of higher education include:

  • Accredited, post-secondary educational institutions offering credit toward a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree, or a graduate level or professional degree.
  • Post-secondary vocational institutions with recognized post-secondary credentials.

Institutions must also be eligible to participate in U.S. Department of Education student aid programs.

Withdrawals from an account may be used to pay higher education costs for a designated beneficiary. These include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible institution of higher education. They also include the reasonable costs of room and board for the beneficiary who is at least a half-time student. The cost of room and board qualifies if it is not more than the greater of the following two amounts:

  1. The room and board allowance included in the cost of attendance for a particular period and living arrangement for the student. These allowances are determined by the school for federal financial aid purposes.
  2. The actual amount charged for the student to reside in housing owned or operated by the school.

There is no set date or age by which you must begin making withdrawals from your 529 Savings account.

Yes. It is a non-qualified withdrawal unless it is one of the following situations:

  • Death or disability (section 72(m)(7)) of the designated account beneficiary
  • The designated beneficiary's receipt of a qualified scholarship
  • A qualified rollover distribution

The earnings portion of a non-qualified withdrawal is treated as income to the distributee and is subject to federal tax, applicable state income tax, an additional 10% federal tax, and any contingent deferred sales charges assessed by the servicing agent.

The eligibility of the beneficiary for financial aid may depend upon:

  • The circumstances of the beneficiary's family at the time of enrollment in an institution of higher education
  • Governmental agencies programs and policies
  • School or private organizations where the beneficiary or the beneficiary's family applies for financial assistance

These policies vary at different institutions and can change over time. Therefore, no person or entity can say with certainty how the federal or state aid programs or the school will treat your account.

Note: Financial aid programs administered by agencies of the state of Nebraska don't take account balances into consideration, except as provided by federal law.

If the designated beneficiary receives a scholarship or other financial aid, they may no longer require all the funds in the account.

IRS Publication 970 indicates that you may withdraw funds from your account up to the amount of the scholarship or other financial aid. The earnings portion of the withdrawal is included in your ordinary income, but no federal penalty tax is assessed. The trust is not assessed a contingent deferred sales charge if the aid is a scholarship, allowance, or payment described in section 25A(g)(2) of IRS code.

You may also transfer the amount withdrawn in a qualified rollover distribution and no amount of the withdrawal will be included in your income.

The Coverdell ESA is a trust or custodial account that provides individuals a tax-advantaged method to save up to $2,000 per year for a child's education. The account can be established for any child under age 18 and be used for elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education. This includes kindergarten through grade 12 and college, graduate, and vocational school.

Contributions to a Coverdell ESA can be made any time after the birth of a child and may continue until their 18th birthday. Contributions will not be accepted after the child reaches their 18th birthday, unless the child is a special-needs beneficiary as defined by Treasury Department regulations.

There is no limit to the number of Coverdell ESAs that can be established designating a particular child as beneficiary. The total aggregate contributions to all accounts on behalf of a beneficiary cannot exceed $2,000 in any year.

You may contribute up to $2,000 annually to a child's Coverdell ESA if your modified adjusted gross income is less than the following in the tax year you contribute:

  • $95,000 as a single tax filer or married filing separate, or
  • $190,000 as a married couple filing jointly

The $2,000 maximum contribution limit is gradually reduced if your modified adjusted gross income exceeds these limits.

Anyone, including the account beneficiary, may contribute to the Coverdell ESA, as long as their income falls within the income guidelines and the total of all contributions for one beneficiary does not exceed the $2,000 annual limit.

The annual amount you can contribute to a Coverdell ESA is dependent on your modified adjusted gross income on your federal income tax return. The following table should help you determine your Coverdell ESA contribution eligibility.

Tax Year 2024 Modified Adjusted Gross Income
Tax Filing Status Full Contribution Partial Contribution Not Eligible
  • Single
  • Head of household
  • Married filing separate
Up to $95,000 $95,000 - $110,000 Above $110,000
Married filing jointly Up to $190,000 $190,000 - $220,000 Above $220,000
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Risk Disclosures

Diversification, automatic investment plans, and dollar cost averaging do not assure a profit or protect against loss.

Securities distributed by State Farm® VP Management Corp.

Neither State Farm nor its agents provide tax or legal advice.

Before investing in a 529 plan, consider the plans investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. Contact the plan issuer for an official statement containing this and other information. Read it carefully.

Investors should consider before investing whether their or their 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 such state’s qualified tuition program and should consult their tax advisor, attorney and/or other advisor regarding their specific legal, investment or tax situation.

Securities are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed and are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal.