I have been a part of higher education in some capacity (student, grad student, instructor, professor) for almost 11 years now. It’s safe to say that college has been a big part of my life. While thinking about my daughter’s future (and possibly any future kids’ future) I regularly think about college. Should I pay for college? How much should I help pay for college? Should there be stipulations in order for her to receive the money? All these thoughts swirl in my head. College is a daunting financial challenge.
Have you begun saving for college?
No matter what your answer is I would encourage you to look into the Nebraska Education Savings Trust Direct Plan—or simply a NEST 529 plan. Nebraska boasts about their high quality and affordable higher education. A quick search on several universities and colleges’ websites from across the state justify these statements. Tuition is about $8,500 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, $7,200 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, $6,500 at Wayne State, and about $30,000 at the various private colleges including Hastings College, Doane University, and Midlands University. Even with lower tuition costs than most states, college is still going to take a large chunk of money.
The NEST 529 plan is an easy and simple way to begin saving money for any and all kids’ college fund. The power of compound interest makes it apparent that the earlier you start the better. Just because your child is 12 or 17, however, does not mean it’s too late. For example, if you start saving on your kid’s first birthday and you can afford to put away $100 a month, you’ll have over $35,000. If your child is 10 years old and you can save $100 a month you would have over $12,000 saved up for college. That’s not too shabby and while that won’t be enough to cover all of the costs it sure will make a dent.
If saving for your child’s future isn’t enough of an incentive the NEST account has tax advantages! Account owners can deduct a maximum of $10,000. There is also no savings cap.
I was at a recent Nebraska Financial Education Coalition meeting where Treasurer Don Stenberg spoke about this incredibly beneficial program. As of 2017 there are about 250,000 accounts which has grown substantially since Treasurer Stenberg took office in 2011. Within the accounts there are about $4.5 billion (with a B) assets in these account. Join me and Treasurer Stenberg as we begin saving for your kids’ and Nebraska’s future.
You can learn more about opening a NEST 529 plan on their website (https://www.nest529direct.com/home.html). Also note that other states including Iowa have similar plans (https://www.collegesavingsiowa.com/). You do not have to be a Nebraska resident to either open the account or receive the tax benefits.