Nebraska - Saving For College Report

We discuss the tax benefits, trends, do's and don'ts and various plan options of setting up a 529 college savings plan in Nebraska

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As parents, grandparents and students we know college is coming and that we're somehow going to have to pay for it someday. Fortunately we have many options available to us including savings bonds, the stock market and 529 plans. Starting a 529 account now is always the best option, no matter how old you (or your child) is. While playing the stock market may yield higher returns on your investment, placing your money into a 529 plan allows it to grow in a tax free environment. One study even found that when the federal tax benefits were taken into consideration, 529 plans outperformed their benchmarks in every category.

Nebraska has it's own state-operated 529 plan called Nebraska Education Savings Trust. It is important to note that your child does not have to go to a NE college or university in order to use this savings account. 529 plan funds can be used at any accredited college or university across the nation, including some K-12 private schools!

Nebraska College Costs & Trends

Colleges and universities across the United States experienced increased operating costs of 2.5% in 2019. This most recent inflation figure was down slightly from the 2.9 percent increase in 2018 and 3.4 percent increase in 2017. These costs are forwarded directly to students in the form of higher tuition and living expenses. As these costs steadily rise every year, parents are looking for ways to help offset these future higher education costs.

These rising costs are hitting closer to home in Nebraska as well. Nebraska's' higher education costs rose by 26.4% in just the last 10 years, ranking as the 37th highest state.

The table below shows the average one-year costs in 2020 for different types of NE colleges and universities.

OwnershipDegreeSchoolsPublic Out-of-State TuitionPublic In-State TuitionMedian DebtTotal Annual In-State Cost
Public 4 year 7 $14,002 $7,522 $19,611 $14,792
Public 2 year 9 $4,202 $3,496 $10,356 $8,570
Private 4 year 22 $21,658 $21,658 $25,079 $20,447
Private 2 year 10 $0 $0 $13,250 $13,196

These costs rise every year. Rising tuition is a major driver in these increased higher education costs. Tuition at a 4-year university in NE rose 19% (ranked 20th worst in the US), while a 2-year or trade school increased their tuition by 18 percent.

529 Tax Benefits for Nebraska Residents

Nebraska offers tax benefits and deductions when savings are put into your child's 529 savings plan.

For single filers:$10,000/yr
For joint filers:$10,000/yr

Best 529 Plans in Nebraska

First National Bank of Omaha manages all four of the 529 plans that Nebraska offers. The Nebraska Education Savings Trust (NEST) is available in a direct-sold version and an advisor-sold version and employs several fund families on its investment platform. The TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan is distributed through discount broker TD Ameritrade. The State Farm College Savings Plan is distributed exclusively through State Farm representatives.

State Plan Name:Nebraska Education Savings Trust
Minimum Contribution:$0
Maximum Contribution:up to $400,000 per beneficiary across accounts
Fees:No application fee or annual account fee; 0.18% to 1.26% asset management fee, depending on your portfolio.

Nebraska 529 Plan Statistics

There are 266,348 registered in Nebraska with a total value of $5,388,595,801. That is an average of $20,231 per account. Unfortunately 529 plans are not widely used... a 2018 study by Edward Jones found that only 29 percent of Americans were even aware that 529 savings plans exist!

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