NextGen grants available for Midcoast students

May 15, 2014

Augusta — The NextGen College Investing Plan has more than $1,000 for each eligible Maine child to put toward his/ her college costs.

The Finance Authority of Maine, which administers the program, is urging parents, grandparents and others who are helping young people to plan ahead for college to take advantage of these grants.

More than 30,000 Maine children have NextGen college savings accounts. FAME credits the success of the $500 Harold Alfond College Grant and FAME’s $200 Initial Matching Grant for this achievement, noting there are families still eligible to receive hundreds of more dollars in grants just by adding to their NextGen accounts.

Maine is one of 30 states collaborating with the College Savings Plans Network to declare May 29th “529 Day” in an effort to encourage families to start preparing for college costs early.

“We have significant grants to help pay for higher education and we want Maine’s children to receive them. The first step is simply to open a NextGen account. The combination of grants and regular savings can grow to help make a student’s higher education dream a reality,” said Bruce Wagner, Chief Executive Officer of FAME, in a news release.

Maine children can start to receive these grants in their NextGen accounts right away through the following methods:

  • Initial Matching Grant: Eligible Maine accounts opened with at least $25 in the direct- sold series, or $50 in the advisor-sold series, may receive a one-time $200 Initial Matching Grant. (This grant is not available for babies who are eligible for the Harold Alfond College Challenge Grant.)
  • NextStep Matching Grant: Provides eligible Maine accounts a 50 percent match on contributions, up to $100 match per year, with a lifetime maximum of $1,000.
  • $50 Automated Funding Grant: Available for eligible Maine accounts that make at least six consecutive automated contributions through an automated funding option such as payroll deduction.

Families can calculate the probable cost for a child to attend college with the NextGen planning calculator: nextgenplan.com/calculator.html. It can be personalized by child’s age, whether the school is public or private, and any current amount of savings.

“I’m so glad I had a head-start on paying my college tuition costs with a NextGen account instead of adding debt like so many of my classmates who are relying on loans,” said Taylor Banister, a freshman at Thomas College.

The NextGen College Investing Plan is Maine's Section 529 Plan. It offers a wide range of professionally managed investment portfolios that can help families plan for college based on their needs. The money in an account can grow tax-deferred, and when it’s time, withdrawals, including any earnings, are tax free when used to pay for qualified higher education expenses as defined in the Internal Revenue Code. Any earnings withdrawn that are not used for qualified expenses are subject to federal income tax and a 10 percent additional federal tax and may also be subject to state income taxes.

To date, NextGen has granted more than $12 million in matching funds to Maine’s college and trade school bound students.

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