November 26, 2014

Nebraska families encourage to save now for college later (AUDIO)

Treasurer Don Stenberg answers a question as David Cota with 1st National Bank looks on

State officials hope to encourage more Nebraskans to invest in their children’s future; or their grandchildren, nieces, nephews, even a friend to help them pay for college.

The state offers four college savings plans through the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust, but only about 12% of the Nebraska families eligible participate.

“I was very pleased to oversee the development of Nebraska’s College Savings Plan during my years as State Treasurer,” said Gov. Dave Heineman stated during a news conference at the Capitol office. “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.”

The governor has issued a proclamation declaring May 29th “529 College Savings Day” in Nebraska. That somewhat awkward tag stems from the United States Internal Revenue Code, Section 529, which offers both federal and state tax breaks to those investing toward a college education.

While saving for college has long been a priority for parents and grandparents and for the students themselves, never has saving for college been more critical,” Stenberg noted, stating that college tuition keeps rising each year.

More than 52,000 families in Nebraska and more than 180,000 nationwide are saving for their children’s higher education through NEST. Still, Stenberg says many more can participate.

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.

Senior Managing Director of First National Bank, David Cota, says the assets in the four plans totals $2.7 billion. The NEST Direct plan is the most popular of the plans, with total assets of $1.2 billion. Another plan is offered that is FDIC insured up to $250,000. The average college savings account is $14,000.

State officials stated the plans are attractive, because they offer tax advantages and are professionally managed.

Click here for more information on 529 college savings plans.

AUDIO: Gov. Heineman hosts news conference, promoting college savings plans [10 min.]