Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg and First National Bank of Omaha are partnering with two education organizations in the 2017-18 school year to encourage families with middle school students to save for college through the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST).
As part of the promotion, families who have NEST 529 accounts or who set up new accounts can enter a drawing to win $529 to be deposited in a new or an existing NEST college savings account. Eighteen account owners—six from each of Nebraska’s three congressional districts—will be selected at random to each win a $529 contribution. The drawing closes May 31, 2018.
Enter at www.NEST529.com/middleschool. Money for the contributions comes from First National Bank of Omaha, Program Manager of NEST.
Joining in the effort to reach middle school students and their parents are EducationQuest Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving access to higher education in Nebraska, and College Possible-Omaha, an organization focused on making college admission and graduation possible for low-income students.
NEST is Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 college savings program with more than $4.5 billion in assets and more than 252,000 account owners nationwide, including 78,000 account owners in Nebraska.
“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with EducationQuest and College Possible to encourage families of middle school students to learn about our excellent college savings program called NEST and to begin saving for their higher education needs as soon as possible. I am particularly grateful to the administrators and counselors in Nebraska’s public and private schools for their willingness to share our information with their students and parents,” said Treasurer Stenberg, Trustee of NEST.
“Our philosophy at NEST has been to encourage families to begin saving for their children’s higher education needs when the children are very young, even at birth and certainly by middle school age. That gives families more years to plan and save for college, encourages families to develop regular savings habits, and enables families to take advantage of the benefits of compound interest,” Stenberg said.
“Working with organizations that encourage and increase access to higher education is integral to the mission of the NEST 529 College Savings Plan. We look forward to partnering with EducationQuest and College Possible to boost the savings—and futures—of 18 Nebraskan middle school students,” said Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank of Omaha. “As these students are about to enter high school, it is vital for them to start thinking about their future and for their parents to plan for it. It is our hope to contribute financially to students’ college savings through this easy-to-enter promotion and to generate important family discussions about higher education.”
In addition to the random drawing for NEST account owners, Nebraska school counselors will share a NEST brochure with parents of students in sixth through eighth grades. Students and their families also are encouraged to learn about financial aid for higher education by visiting EducationQuest.org.
The NEST brochure highlights the lifetime earning power of people with degrees beyond a high school diploma and talks about savings vs. borrowing, how to start saving, and how families pay for college. EducationQuest also has included information about NEST in its Look2College presentation for sixth graders and its KnowHow2Go2College presentation for eighth graders.
“With a mission to improve access to higher education in Nebraska, EducationQuest continually promotes the importance of saving for college. We’re confident that sharing information about NEST will spur more middle school students and parents to start saving for the future,” said Kristin Ageton, EducationQuest Director of College Access.
Ageton cited a 2017 study by the Institute for Higher Education Policy that shows children with college savings between $1 and $499 are three times as likely to attend college and four times as likely to graduate as those without any college savings.
“When students have money saved specifically for college, their expectation is that they will indeed go to college – and take steps to get there,” she said. “The goal of this partnership is to increase the number of NEST 529 accounts with middle school students as beneficiaries.”
“As an organization that works every day to help students get to and through college, we know that beginning to save early for college is a wise investment. We are honored to partner with EducationQuest and the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office for this initiative. Through our College Prep Talks, over 1,800 middle school students in Nebraska will learn about the NEST 529 College Savings Plan,” said Arvin Frazier, Executive Director of College Possible-Omaha.
NEST college savings accounts can be used at a four-year college or university, a community college, or a technical school anywhere in the United States and in some other countries. NEST account owners in Nebraska receive significant tax advantages, including a state income tax deduction up to $10,000 for a couple filing jointly or a single filer.
An estimated 79,000 students are enrolled in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades in Nebraska public, private, and home schools.
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 $21 billion in assets and 5,000 employee associates. Primary banking offices are located in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas.