Total assets in the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) for the first time have exceeded $4 billion, as of June 30, with total accounts exceeding a record 250,000, Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg announced today at news conference in North Platte.
“These milestones we are announcing today are a remarkable accomplishment for Nebraska’s college savings program,” Treasurer Stenberg said at a news conference at the North Platte Regional Airport. “They reflect not only our hard work, carefully planning, and ongoing commitment, but also they confirm account owners’ confidence in our program. These numbers tell us that parents and grandparents trust NEST with their hard-earned dollars.”
Stenberg said the total assets represent a 60 percent increase since 2011 when he became State Treasurer. Total assets then were $2.5 billion. The number of accounts has grown by 36 percent during that same time period, up from 185,000 to 251,712.
“Of the total number of accounts, 73,000 of them are owned by Nebraskans from North Platte to North Bend and all across the state,” Stenberg said.
Stenberg is Trustee of NEST, and First National Bank of Omaha is Program Manager. All investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council.
“I have been saying for a long time that we have one of the best college savings programs in the country right here in Nebraska. Our plans have been recognized nationally through the years for cost, performance, reliability, and fund selection,” Stenberg said. “These new numbers tell us that more and more families agree. We are very proud of our four individual NEST college savings plans and the value they provide for parents and grandparents looking for wise, responsible, and effective ways to save for the educational needs of their children and grandchildren.”
Stenberg said the numbers also indicate that families appreciate the variety of investment options offered by NEST, options that allow a family to choose the plan that best fits the age of the child, the family budget, and the family’s investment philosophy. NEST offers four distinct 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.
“Finally, these numbers tell us that families in Nebraska and across the country believe in education. At NEST, we talk about the importance of young people dreaming for their futures at a very early age and parents and grandparents saving for those dreams. Studies show that children who have college savings accounts in their names are four to six times more likely to go to college than children who do not have savings accounts,” Stenberg said.
“I encourage parents and grandparents who are hearing about NEST for the first time to consider opening NEST accounts for their children or grandchildren. They can begin by going to our website at treasurer.nebraska.gov or at NEST529.com to learn more about saving for college with NEST,” Stenberg said.
NEST college savings plans are tax-advantaged investment plans designed to encourage saving for the future higher education expenses of a designated beneficiary. Earnings in 529 plans that are used for qualified education expenses—like tuition, books, computer equipment, and some board and room expenses—are free from federal and state income tax.
As a result of state legislation adopted in 2013, Nebraska taxpayers who contribute to a NEST account are eligible for up to $10,000 in state tax deductions for a single person or a married couple filing jointly.
Money in NEST accounts can be used for higher education expenses anywhere in the United States. The accounts can be used for education at community colleges and technical schools, as well as at traditional colleges and graduate schools.
Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, other relatives, and friends can set up NEST accounts for loved ones or can contribute to accounts that have been set up by others. Only the account owner, however, can claim the tax deduction for contributions he or she makes to the account. Adults, too, who are planning to finish degrees or continue their education in graduate school can set up accounts for themselves.
In addition to NEST’s success as evidenced by its increased assets and number of accounts, NEST plans are well regarded nationally and have been recognized by some of the industry’s most influential observers.
NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: 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. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 261,000 accounts, including 84,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.
About First National Bank of Omaha
First National Bank of Omaha is a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska. First National of Nebraska and its affiliates have more than $23 billion in assets and 5,000 employee associates. Primary banking offices are located in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas.