State Treasurer Don Stenberg today launched a new online program available through the State Treasurer’s website at www.treasurer.org to help Nebraskans better understand state-sponsored 529 college savings plans in general and the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) in particular.
The new program is called Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars for Families and is the second part of a financial literacy initiative being undertaken by the State Treasurer’s Office.
The easy-to-follow, interactive online program was developed by EverFi, an educational technology company based in Washington, D.C. The content can be accessed through the Treasurer’s website at www.treasurer.org. There is no charge to access the information, which takes about 30 minutes to cover. Visitors can return as often as they like to seek answers to specific questions or to review the content.
“Our purpose for offering this program is to provide concise, easy-to-understand information about 529 college savings programs for parents and grandparents and others who may be interested in establishing accounts for children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends,” Treasurer Stenberg said at a news conference in the Capitol.
“We know that many Nebraskans—as well as families across the United States—are not well acquainted with the process for opening a college savings plan, or the tax advantages of state-sponsored 529 college savings plans, or how the beneficiaries can use the accounts. We want to make the system and the process easier for all, with the expectation that even more Nebraskans will discover the value of saving for college through NEST,” Stenberg said.
The Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars for Families program is being supported by the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST), Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 college savings program. As State Treasurer, Stenberg is Trustee of NEST. State-sponsored 529 college savings programs take their name from Section 529 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.
NEST has more than $3 billion in assets with 206,000 accounts nationwide. More than 58,000 of those accounts are owned by Nebraskans.
In September, Treasurer Stenberg launched the first part of his financial literacy initiative—Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars for Students—at Gibbon High School in Gibbon, Neb. That program, also developed by EverFi, provides information about personal finance for Nebraska high school students as part of their school curriculum. It is available to all high schools in the state at no charge to the schools through the Treasurer’s website.
“As Trustee of NEST, I have discovered that two of my biggest challenges are (1.) to make Nebraskans aware of the existence of our 529 college savings plan and (2.) to help Nebraskans understand the benefits of our 529 plan so they can decide if this is the best way for them to save for college for their children and grandchildren. Our announcement today focuses primarily on the second challenge—helping Nebraskans easily understand the benefits of 529 college savings plans in general, and NEST in particular,” Stenberg said.
The program provides basic information about 529 college savings plans as well as a section on myths vs. facts and a knowledge check section. Audio is provided during part of the presentation. Nebraska is only the second state to make the 529 program available to families. Tennessee launched its online 529 educational program in early 2013.
Others speaking at the news conference in the Treasurer’s Capitol suite were Cody Lycke of Clear Lake, Iowa, director of Midwestern operations for EverFi, and Dr. Roger Butters, president of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education and a parent who has NEST college savings accounts for three children.