The North Carolina 529 Plan Makes Saving For College Hassle-Free

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After Tom and Lacy Riegert welcomed their twins Aubree and Paige into the world, they knew they wanted to set them up for a successful future. They immediately looked into options that would allow them to easily and securely save money and decided on opening an NC 529 Account.

The NC 529 Plan is North Carolina’s tax-advantaged investment program designed to help families invest and save for future education expenses. Through the program, parents and caregivers can use funds to pay qualified expenses, including two- and four-year universities, K-12 tuition, trade schools, apprenticeship expenses, special needs equipment and student loan payments.

For the Reigerts, the NC 529 was the perfect option for putting aside money for their daughter’s future college tuition.

“We set up NC 529 Accounts for the girls’ Christening,” said Lacy Riegert. “If people gave us money as a gift, it went directly into the accounts. Now, when the girls receive money for a birthday or holiday, we let them buy something small and put the rest into their NC 529 Accounts. We tell them that we’re saving the money for college, so they know this is an important goal for our family.”

Now, Aubree and Paige are 4 years olds, and while there’s still some ways to go until they are in college, the Riegerts know they’ve set them on the trajectory for a future that can be free of debt.

“Saving for college is very important to me because I didn’t finish paying off my college debt until I was 35,” said Lacy. “We always encourage family and friends to save, save, save!”

To open an NC 529 Account, we’ve laid out all the important details to help your family get started!

How to Open an NC 529 Account

Parents, caregivers, guardians, relatives, friends, and even organizations can open an account for a child’s education but must be 18 years of age or older. Those interested can go to NC 529's website and create an account, which is free of enrollment fees and sales charges. All that’s required is a minimum contribution of $25.

To complete the NC 529 enrollment form, however, participants must provide their Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number, birth date, address and email address. It’s also important to have the name and birth date of the beneficiary, while the beneficiary’s Social Security Number can be added later.

Through the NC 529 Savings Plan, families can select from a variety of investment options that’ll meet their objectives and a range of strategies depending on their risk tolerance, whether it be conservative, moderate or aggressive. Over time, the investments will continue to grow, with the earnings free from federal and state income tax when withdrawn and used for Qualified Education Expenses (QEE).

Some QEE’s include tuition, fees and other related expense that are required for enrollment or attendance at an educational institution as well as student activity fees that are required for enrollment or attendance at a school. QEEs also encompass other education costs, including K-12 tuition, apprenticeship programs, trade school expenses, and student loan payments. 

How to Make Contributions to Your NC 529 Account

After opening an NC 529 Account, parents can make contributions as low as $25 by electronic transfer online or sending a check payable to “NC 529 Plan” with a downloadable contribution form. Pro tip: Family and friends can use these forms to make a contribution for birthdays or holidays–a win-win for you and your family.

Contributions can also be made through an electronic bank transfer, employer payroll deduction, investment account rollover or transfer. If adjustments need to be made for automatic contribution payments, you can adjust or cancel them through your account.

For more information about the NC 529 Education Savings Plan, visit CFNC.org/NC529. Want to get a headstart on your newly opened account? Enter to win the 2022 NC 529 Grand Slam now through May 31 for a chance at a $1,529 contribution towards your NC 529 Account!

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