Resources for Maine Families with NextGen 529™ Accounts in Response to COVID-19
We are all in this together, but we all have different circumstances, especially now. With the evolving impacts of COVID-19 on daily life, the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) understands the challenges facing families today.
You may have noticed the change in the value of your NextGen account as well as in some Maine grants, including the Alfond Grant. In the last several weeks, the markets have experienced a lot of volatility. With long-term investments, market downturns happen and so do recoveries. It can be difficult, but it is important to remain calm during times like these, and work to stay the course to meet your long-term investment goals.
As you evaluate your savings and investment goals, it’s important to focus on your short- and long-term needs, risk tolerance, asset diversification, and overall objectives. Learn more about market volatility.
Helping you reach your higher education goals for your family is our core mission at FAME and NextGen 529. We’re here when you are ready.
While we weather this pandemic, adopt a “do-what-you-can” mantra for continuing to save for higher education. If you’re not able to contribute as much to your account as you did previously or at all, that’s okay. If you are able, setting aside just a small amount a week to invest in your NextGen 529 account can add up over time and you can invest using automated funding. Though no one can guarantee exactly what the market will look like tomorrow, keeping your future goals in mind is important – just as it is with retirement.
To change automated contributions
- If you have automated funding to withdraw from your checking or savings account, complete the appropriate Automated Services Form found on this page and return to Merrill using the address on the form.
- If you have Payroll Deduction, contact your employer directly.
- If you make recurring online contributions through the Merrill Edge Platform you can update the Dollar Amount and Frequency in the Transfer Money section of the Accounts menu.
If you withdraw money from your NextGen 529 account for nonqualified expenses, you may pay taxes on the earnings portion of that withdrawal and may also be subject to an additional 10% tax. There also may be state taxes that would apply. For more information see the Client Direct Series Program Description, Client Select Program Description or, if applicable, contact your financial advisor.
Refunds from Higher Education Institutions+
Generally, college students and parents who receive refunds for tuition, room and board, or other qualified expenses can recontribute their refund back into their 529 plan account within 60 days of the date of the refund to avoid paying any penalty or taxes on the earnings. However, under temporary IRS guidance, if that 60-day period ends on or after April 1, 2020 and before July 15, 2020, then the recontribution can be made any time before July 15, 2020.
As always, consult with your tax advisor regarding the tax implications of any refunds and/or recontributions and be sure to check how a refund contribution may be treated under the laws of the state where you pay taxes.
How to recontribute:
- The refunded amount will need to be returned by check accompanied by a letter of instruction. The letter must include the same account number from which the withdrawal was taken. If the refund includes Maine Matching Grant funds, Merrill will review the distribution history to determine the amount recontributed to the Matching Grant portfolio. The check must be labeled as “recontribution” on the memo line. The account owner should retain a copy of the letter and the check for tax records.
We are here to help. Reach out if you have questions. Contact us at 800-228-3734 or NextGen@FAMEMaine.com
Here are some additional financial resources to help with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis: