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

The best way to help your loved one achieve his or her academic dreams is to make calculated and strategic preparations. Whether your child is eight months old, eight years old, or going on eighteen, it is never too early to start planning for college.

While it’s important to start saving early and often, there are other critical steps to take along the way to help pave the path for success. Not sure where to begin? Keep our checklist of suggestions handy to help your child – and your college savings – excel.  

College Savings Checklist:

  • Open an Account: If you have not already, open a NEST 529 College Savings Plan account! Map out a budget of what you can afford to save each month, and adjust this amount over time according to your income and overarching savings goal.
  • Research Scholarships: NEST 529 offers numerous scholarships throughout the year to help maximize your college savings. Look up deadlines and eligibility and apply accordingly.
  • Tap into Friends and Family: Encourage family members and friends to gift contributions to your child’s NEST 529 account in lieu of, or in addition to presents for birthdays and holidays.
  • Book It: Make the local library your vacation home. Instilling a love of reading will help to improve your child’s academic skills and nurture a lifetime of curiosity and learning.
  • Prioritize Studying: Instill good study habits and strong academic skills early and often.
  • Stay Involved: From volunteering in the classroom to helping your child select academic courses, be an active presence in his or her educational journey.  
  • Include Your Child: As your child grows older, encourage him or her to contribute a portion of allowances or monetary gifts to their NEST 529 account. Including your child in the savings process will help reinforce the importance of college savings.
  • Map out the Future: Discuss future academic aspirations with your child and instill the value of higher education.
  • ‘Join the Club’: Help your child choose fun activities and extracurriculars – by encouraging him or her to find hobbies and passions, you will help build leadership skills and a strong sense of community. As an added benefit, these activities look good on college applications.
  • Reassess Your Efforts: Every few months, review your college savings plan to track your progress and ensure you are on the right path. Increase contributions whenever you can.
  • Get Social: Between NEST 529, friends, family and your child’s school, reach out to your vast network for advice and guidance as you and your child embark on the journey of higher education. Don’t forget to celebrate educational and savings milestones – no matter how big or small!

With the implementation of a solid savings plan and a strong academic foundation, your child will be that much closer to achieving his or her higher education dreams. As always, NEST 529 is here for you every step of the way on your savings journey.

If you have any questions please contact us via email at or by calling 1-888-993-3746.