BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE: BLK) announced today that its iShares 529 Plan, managed in partnership with industry leader Upromise Investments, and featuring 28 investment options that financial advisors can use to build effective 529 portfolios for their clients, has received a Silver rating in the annual Morningstar Analyst Ratings for 529 College Savings Plans. According to Morningstar, “Arkansas' iShares 529 Plan is another Silver medalist with inexpensive advisor-sold options. This plan includes only exchange-traded funds, which replicate indexes yet trade like individual stocks. Several other plans also include ETFs, or have plans to add them to their menus, but the iShares line-up is robust and reasonably priced, giving advisors ample choice when constructing custom portfolios for clients.” 1 “As 529 plans play an important role in financial planning, the value of a cost-efficient and quality line-up of investment options becomes even more important. With our plan, advisors have flexibility and diversity of options available for them to invest their clients’ savings, with access to investment options across asset classes,” said Sue Thompson, Head of BlackRock’s Registered Investment Advisor Channel and Head of the iShares Institutional Asset Management Channel. “We know the important role that post-secondary education can play in the lives of American families,” said Dale Ellis, Director with the Arkansas College Savings Plans. “It’s why we do everything in our power to stay progressive in the area of saving for college, and why we value our work with BlackRock and Upromise for their commitment to being on the forefront of college savings.” This is the second time the iShares 529 Plan has earned a Silver Analyst Rating from Morningstar, earning its first in Morningstar’s 2012 ratings of the nation’s largest 529 Plans. As one of only two advisor-sold 529 plans to receive a Silver rating, the iShares 529 Plan stands out in a field of 529 plans, and is viewed positively by Morningstar analysts, as having notable advantages and being likely to outperform its peers on a risk-adjusted basis over time.