Author: Terry Severson, Director, Savings Plans Marketing, First National Bank of Omaha 

In what feels like the blink of an eye, your child has graduated high school and is planning to attend college in the fall. Although preparing for that bittersweet “see you later” can be difficult, preparing financially for college doesn’t have to be. To ease the process, we’ve created a list of financial steps that you can take this summer, ahead of your child’s freshman year:

  • Bargain hunt for school supplies and dorm necessities: Your NEST 529 funds can be put toward textbooks, a computer, a printer, as well as other necessary supplies and equipment. Shop around and compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal on these items. For example, textbooks can often be found cheaper online—especially if you purchase them used.
  • Encourage your child to apply to any last-minute scholarships: Seek out scholarships that have a late deadline and advise your child to apply—they’ll thank you later. Much like your NEST 529 savings, scholarship funding won’t need to be paid back down the road.
  • Teach your child about banking: If you haven’t already, help your child open a checking and savings account. Make sure they understand the basics of withdrawing and depositing money, as well as monitoring their account.
  • Help your child set up a budget: Lay out a plan with your child, breaking down their expenses and establishing how much they can afford to spend. Then, encourage them to track monthly spending and compensate for overspending in one area by cutting back in another. Emphasize the importance of saving and making their money last—for instance, foregoing that extra Starbucks trip can save hundreds of dollars long-term.
  • Encourage your child to get a part-time job: Whether they work over the summer or apply for an on-campus job in the fall, every little bit your child saves will add up. Plus—getting a job can establish independence that will help them transition into living on their own for the first time.
  • Think about the unexpected costs of college: While most parents consider the costs of tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other traditional expenses, it may come as a surprise to realize how many additional costs are associated with college. Travel expenses, eating out, and sorority/fraternity membership are just some examples of the unexpected costs your child may run into.

Implementing these simple steps can make a world of difference in preparing your high school graduate for the next stage of their academic career. The NEST 529 team is here to help as you begin making your first withdrawals. Contact us with any questions by calling 1-888-993-3746 or emailing