Social-conscious fund added to Virginia 529

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The Virginia College Savings Plan is adding an investment option under its VEST program that only invests in companies that meet specific social criteria.

In addition to financial health and growth potential, the Parnassus Equity Income Fund takes social factors into account when choosing companies to invest in. The fund avoids companies that manufacture tobacco and alcohol or are associated with gambling. It also avoids companies that make weapons or earn revenues from electricity generation from nuclear power.

“A growing number of our Virginia Education Savings Trust account owners have indicated an interest in a socially targeted investment option,” Virginia College Savings Plan CEO Mary Morris said in a statement. “After reviewing socially targeted funds, the board selected the Parnassus Equity Income Fund because of its history of solid returns, active management and low expense ratio in conjunction with its social criteria screens.”

The VEST plans offers 16 different investment options, including a mix of equity and fixed-income investments. The plan allows account owners to save for qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, textbooks, room and board, fees and computers. 

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