Author: Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank of Omaha

The college savings journey is a long process, full of new accomplishments and milestones along the way. When families first begin to save for higher education, they may not know exactly what the academic future will hold for their young scholar. That’s why the versatility of NEST 529 makes all the difference. Read on to learn about the many ways that NEST 529 builds flexibility into the college savings journey, to help every family best prepare for their loved one’s bright future.

Qualified Educational Expenses

529 college savings plans are specifically designed to help families finance higher education, which means that in order for the earnings portion of withdrawals from your NEST 529 account to be tax-free, the funds must be used at an eligible educational institution for qualified expenses (costs for items that are required for enrollment or attendance at a qualified institution such as tuition and fees, books, supplies, necessary technology and even room and board).

This requirement gives families an abundance of options depending on their needs. Eligible institutions are generally any accredited college or university including trade and technical schools in the U.S. and abroad that participate in federal financial aid programs.

Expansive Tax Benefits

Tax-free savings make 529 accounts one of the smartest financial choices that families can make on the road to higher education. Contributions into your NEST account are made with after-tax dollars and your earnings grow federally and state tax-deferred while they're invested. Rather than paying taxes on the money you’re earning, it’s being reinvested. All of the investment growth is yours to use. But the benefits don’t stop there – with an annual Nebraska state income tax deduction of up to $10,000 , or $5,000 per spouse if filing separately, for contributions into your own NEST account, saving with NEST 529 offers tax savings that can help improve families’ overall financial fitness.

A Great Gift for Any Occasion

As the holiday season approaches, NEST 529 offers a unique and versatile option for loved ones to give a gift that lasts a lifetime: the gift of higher education. Through Ugift, the online gifting service, your NEST 529 account is assigned a unique code that can be used by others to make contributions with a check or electronic transfer into your account. Unlike many other gifting programs, gift givers don't have to join, register or pay a service fee, and they don’t need any additional information about your account.

Alternatively, with a gift certificate contribution loved ones can fill out and mail a contribution coupon to NEST 529, and download and print a card to give you or your child for the occasion. Whichever method friends and family choose, NEST 529 is there to help make college savings a community effort that is accessible for all kinds of families.

Flexibility if Plans Change

Families may worry about what will happen to their college savings if their child decides on a path that may not include higher education. At NEST 529 we know that plans can change, and we work hard to ensure that families can save with confidence, knowing that they have options available. Should an account beneficiary no longer need the funds, NEST 529 makes it easy to switch the beneficiary to another member of the family. Additionally, there is no contribution minimum needed to maintain an account, enabling families to hold on to the funds in case the child wishes to pursue higher education later in life or if another family member decides to seek an additional degree.

Additionally, with NEST 529, Account Owners can withdraw funds at any time and for any reason - meaning families never have to worry about losing access to their funds in case of an emergency. Though there may be penalties and tax implications associated with making non-qualified withdrawals, Account Owners have the ability to save as much as they choose, while retaining access should plans change.

Do you have questions about saving with NEST 529, or how to open an account? Do not hesitate to reach out to our team, via email at clientservice@nest529direct.com or by calling 1-888-993-3746.