Today, Gov. Dave Heineman and State Treasurer Don Stenberg recognized “529 College Savings Day,” a day set aside to promote the value of state-sponsored 529 college savings plans and to encourage families to start saving for a child’s or grandchild’s college education.
Gov. Heineman signed a Governor’s Proclamation declaring May 29 to be “529 College Savings Day” in Nebraska. The Governor and Treasurer were joined by David Cota, Senior Managing Director of First National Bank, the program manager of the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST).
“I was very pleased to oversee the development of Nebraska’s College Savings Plan during my years as State Treasurer,” said Gov. Heineman. “I am thrilled to see Nebraskans taking advantage of this opportunity. Education is a top priority for our state, and college savings plans are important to help students and families plan for the future.”
“Our children and our state deserve the brightest futures possible. Saving early for college is one way parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends can help young people reach their potential and live their dreams. Saving for college is one of the most important steps we can take for the students in our lives, whether they are starting kindergarten, attending middle school or high school, heading off to college, or planning to go back to college after time in the workforce,” Treasurer Stenberg said at the news conference.
“A well educated workforce helps the State of Nebraska meet the challenging demands of the future. We look to our children and grandchildren to provide leadership and bright ideas to move our communities, our state, and our country forward. And a 529 college savings plan can help them get the education they need to fill these rolls,” Treasurer Stenberg said.
Every state offers a 529 plan, which draws its name from Section 529 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. A date close to May 29, or 05-29, is designated nationally as “529 College Savings Day” to draw attention to the value of college savings plans and to encourage new savers to enroll. Savers can enroll in virtually any state plan, regardless of where they live.
A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged investment plan designed to encourage saving for the future higher education expenses of a designated beneficiary. Withdrawals from 529 plans for qualified education expenses, including tuition, books and some board and room expenses, are free from federal income tax. In Nebraska, account holders who are Nebraska taxpayers are eligible for up to $5,000 in state tax deductions each year.
"The cost of attending college can seem overwhelming for many families and students. As program manager, we have worked with the Treasurer's office to develop a 529 college savings plan that is affordable and easy to use and maintains a variety of investment options," said David Cota of First National Bank. "We are committed to helping families start the process of saving for college, and we encourage our existing customers to continue saving as much as they can. It all adds up and can truly make the difference in a family's ability to send a loved one to college."
Three new initiatives are being promoted in May and June by the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust in recognition of 529 Day including an essay contest for Nebraska students ages 11 to 14, financial incentives for opening new NEST Direct and NEST Advisor accounts, and a rollover bonus for new or existing NEST Direct or NEST Advisor accounts. More information is available at www.NEST529.com or www.treasurer.org.
The Nebraska plan’s variety of options was recognized nationally in December 2011 when Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine named NEST the “Best College Savings Plan” for Fund Selection. It was the fourth time Kiplinger’s had included Nebraska’s 529 plan in its “Best College Savings Plan” listing in various categories.
More than 52,000 families in Nebraska and more than 180,000 nationwide are saving for their children’s higher education through NEST.
The Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) is made up of four savings plans – the NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan, and the State Farm College Savings Plan. First National Bank of Omaha is the program manager, and the State Treasurer is the program trustee. All investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council.
The following are important facts to consider regarding the value of a college education and the need to start saving early: