North Dakota - 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 North Dakota

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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.

North Dakota has it's own state-operated 529 plan called College SAVE. It is important to note that your child does not have to go to a ND 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!

North Dakota 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 North Dakota as well. North Dakota's' higher education costs rose by 20.1% in just the last 10 years, ranking as the 41st highest state.

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

OwnershipDegreeSchoolsPublic Out-of-State TuitionPublic In-State TuitionMedian DebtTotal Annual In-State Cost
Public 4 year 9 $11,013 $6,217 $19,088 $11,179
Public 2 year 5 $6,178 $4,420 $9,377 $9,485
Private 4 year 6 $12,160 $12,160 $19,518 $14,812
Private 2 year 9 $0 $0 $10,730 $12,412

These costs rise every year. Rising tuition is a major driver in these increased higher education costs. Tuition at a 4-year university in ND rose 24% (ranked 10th worst in the US), while a 2-year or trade school increased their tuition by 19 percent.

529 Tax Benefits for North Dakota Residents

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

For single filers:$5,000/yr
For joint filers:$10,000/yr

Best 529 Plans in North Dakota

Ascensus College Savings is the program manager for North Dakota’s 529 college savings plan, which offers 9 investment options featuring Vanguard funds.

State Plan Name:College SAVE
Minimum Contribution:$25
Maximum Contribution:There’s a maximum balance of $269,000 per account.
Fees:Annual account maintenance fee of $20 waived if the beneficiary or participant is a North Dakota resident. Annual plans are subject to 0.55% fee.

North Dakota 529 Plan Statistics

There are 37,033 registered in North Dakota with a total value of $511,024,789. That is an average of $13,799 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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