The Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST), Nebraska's state-sponsored 529 college savings program, topped $3 billion in assets as of March 31, 2013, the end of the first quarter, State Treasurer Don Stenberg announced today.
"This milestone is a remarkable accomplishment for Nebraska's college savings program and reflects account holders' confidence in our program, which is now 12 years old. This number assures us that families trust NEST and are demonstrating that trust by opening new college savings accounts and continuing to contribute to their existing accounts," Treasurer Stenberg said.
Stenberg said he anticipates NEST assets will grow even more with the passage of LB296, a measure introduced by Sen. Galen Hadley in the 2013 legislative session that would increase the amount that can be deducted from state income tax from $5,000 to $10,000 for a single person or a married couple filing jointly. The bill was made a priority bill by Sen. Lydia Brasch.
The Nebraska Educational Savings Trust offers four college 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 investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Treasurer Stenberg is the NEST Trustee. State-sponsored 529 savings plans take their name from Section 529 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.
"We have one of the best college savings programs in the country right here in Nebraska," Stenberg said. "That's why more than 203,000 families nationwide—including 55,000 Nebraska families—are saving for college with NEST plans. We are very proud of our NEST college savings plans and the value they provide for families looking for responsible and effective ways to save for college."
Two of Nebraska's college savings plans—the NEST Direct College Savings Plan and the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan—received the highest rating possible from the nationally recognized website, savingforcollege.com, in 2012. The website's highest "5-cap" rating was given for both resident and non-resident accounts in the two NEST plans. Factors used to assign the ratings were performance, costs, features, and reliability.
Nebraska's two other 529 plans also received high ratings from savingforcollege.com. The TD Ameritrade College Savings Plan received 4.5 caps for resident accounts and 4 caps for non-resident accounts. The State Farm College Savings Plan received 4 caps for both resident and non-resident accounts. The icon used for the ratings is a graduation mortarboard, thus use of the term cap.
Also in 2011 the variety of options available through the Nebraska college savings program was recognized nationally by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. The magazine named NEST the "Best College Savings Plan" for Fund Selection. It was the fourth time Kiplinger's had included Nebraska's 529 plans in its "Best College Savings Plan" listing in various categories.
The following are the latest statistics about NEST:
Families can learn more about NEST by clicking here.