Every bright future needs a spark.

Get on board and Invest in ME! Together we can help all Maine families build a brighter future.

Our Goal:

By 2030, all Maine families are saving for higher education and  Maine will have one of the lowest average student loan debt rates in the nation.


It’s about your family’s success.

You invest in their well-being and future every day, whether sharing stories at a family meal, helping with homework, or just cheering them on at a school activity. If you are looking for ideas to help invest in their future higher education, here’s a start:

It’s never too early or late to start investing in college

  • There are many ways to plan for higher education costs. Families who have savings are always in a better position when it comes to paying for college — every dollar available from savings is a dollar that doesn’t have to be borrowed and repaid later with interest.
  • Learn more about how opening or making regular contributions to a NextGen College Investing Plan® account can make a big difference later. You may also qualify for matching grants — learn more about Grants for Maine residents.
  • Share information about any money you have saved for college or the Alfond Grant (if applicable) with your children. Children with college savings are 6 times more likely to go onto higher education.4
  • Ask family and friends to invest in your child’s future by gifting college savings for birthdays, holidays or any special occasion!

Nurture the family’s interest and skills

  • Start talking about the future with your children – here are some age-based conversation starters.
  • Encourage your children to think about their interests and explore different careers. Help them create a course plan to make sure that they enroll in the high school courses they will need for college or career school.
  • If you, your spouse or anyone in your family wants to take the next step toward something more — college or career school — encourage them to learn more about preparing for the next step with Maine College Transitions.

Plan ahead

  • No matter where you are on your path to higher education, use FAME’s education resources for parents, graduate students, returning/adult students or military students. FAME has prepared information, tools, videos and games that help you prepare, plan and pay for higher education for all steps on that path.
  • Help your family become more financially savvy, find Maine-based resources, follow FAME’s steps to financial success and play Claim Your Future yourself or with your children.

An educated workforce is important to Maine’s future.

With Maine’s economy relying on our workforce being more educated, we need to act now. FAME is encouraging as many Maine employers as possible to do what they can to help their employees and their children, the future faces of Maine, to prepare for higher education.

With our partners, we are providing employers with information and easy activities that they can deploy to help invest in higher education for the future workforce of their companies and the future of Maine.

Help your employees and their families reach their higher education goals.

Encourage employees’ aspirations for higher education

  • Talk about college as part of annual evaluations for professional development planning.
  • Become a mentor or create a job shadowing or internship program.
  • Share “Talk about the Future” tips with parents and grandparents.

Help connect employees to information about saving for higher education

  • If your company is not yet a Next Step Maine Employer – join. They have resources to help provide educational support services in the workplace.
  • Become an Alfond Scholarship Foundation business partner.
  • Connect families to information about the NextGen College Investing Plan® and grants for Maine residents by introducing NextGen with your benefits package. It is easy for you and valuable to employees.
  • Educate employees about NextGen and benefits for Maine residents.
  • Include approved messages in company newsletters.
    • Encourage employees to learn more about how to open and contribute to accounts.
    • Host a learning session. FAME can come to talk about planning for college and help employees open accounts.
    • Promote payroll deduction – have a question about payroll deduction? Email or call FAME at 1-800-228-3734.
  • Consider making a contribution to employees’ accounts.
    • Gifts for employees’ new children.
    • Contribute training dollars to employees’ own accounts for their education expenses.
  • Download Our Employer Toolkit.

Or contact FAME for more information: 1-800-228-3734

Help employees pay for higher education

  • Make payroll deduction to college savings accounts possible.
  • Consider offering student loan debt relief to employees.
    • Share information on student debt solutions such as income-based repayment programs, Opportunity Maine, etc.
    • Help connect employees to resources, like TheLoanForME.com or directly help pay student loan debt.
  • Consider scholarship or grant programs to help reduce borrowing or provide tuition assistance up front instead of reimbursement.
  • Invite FAME to conduct an information session on financial aid or other financial education topics.
Financial Advisors

Help your clients prepare for higher education

With college costs rising faster than other household expenses, families are concerned about how they will pay. In fact more US parents worry about how to pay for their children’s college education than any other financial concern. (Gallup. “2001-2015 Economy and Personal Finance Survey”)

The NextGen Client Select Series offers a wide range of investment options. The NextGen Client Select Series is offered through a Merrill Lynch financial advisor or through a Maine Distribution Agent.

Why NextGen?

Grants for Maine residents¹ are real investments in a child’s future!

Reduce student loans and debt. Every dollar in a NextGen account, when used for qualified higher education expenses², is a dollar that doesn’t need to be borrowed and repaid with interest.

Tax-free growth. Any earnings in a NextGen account are federal and Maine state income tax-free³, when used for qualified higher education expenses2.

Account holder control. Account owners maintain control of the account regardless of beneficiary age, and can change the beneficiary to a qualified family member4, as defined under the Internal Revenue Code, at any time.

Consider gifting and estate planning benefits.

  • Contributions are treated as a completed gift to the beneficiary.
  • Contribute $14,000 a year, or up to $28,000 if married, gift-tax free (currently).
  • Any other gifts to the beneficiary in the same tax year must be taken into account to determinine whether the gift-tax annual exclusion limit has been met.
  • Special election allows a lump-sum contribution to be treated as made ratably over five years.  If no other gifts were made to a beneficiary in the same year — a single $70,000 contribution or $140,000, if married and filing jointly (currently), could be made without federal gift tax consequences.
  • Always consult a tax advisor regarding the specific tax consequences of contributions beyond these limits, as well as the state tax treatment of 529 plan contributions.

Affordable. Accounts can be open with just $25. Additional contributions may be as low as $25.

NextGen is highly rated by SavingforCollege.com. The NextGen College Investing Plan Client Select Series has received a 4.5 out of 5-Cap Rating. The NextGen College Investing Plan Client Direct Series is on SavingforCollege.com’s Top Ten Performing 529 College Savings Plan in the one-year, three-year and five-year rankings and has received a 5 out of 5-Cap Rating.

Lower impact on financial aid than other savings options. Your clients may wonder if a 529 account can adversely affect their eligibility for financial aid. As long as the parent, or the dependent student is the account owner, funds are typically treated as assets belonging to the parent, minimizing the impact on financial aid.5

FAME Resources to Help Your Clients Prepare, Plan and Pay for Higher Education

No matter the age of the children or how close they are to college, FAME has information, tools, videos and games that can help your clients, and their children, prepare, plan and pay for higher education for their children:

Pre-K and Elementary School


Middle School

  • By playing FAME’s Claim Your Future® game students explore education after high school, future careers and money management.
  • FAME’s “Talk About the Future” tips can give parents some ideas for starting conversations about careers and the education needed to get there.

High School

College & Beyond

  • SALT® is an innovative online program designed to empower students to confidently manage their money and build financial skills for life. Maine college students can access SALT. They should enter their college’s name in the school/organization field.
  • FAME’s website TheLoanforME.com is a trusted resource where students can be more informed borrowers and access a network of Maine lenders to apply for a private student loan or to consolidate existing debt.
Community Members

Invest in ME

We are enlisting help so that Maine’s future workforce can prepare and save for higher education. An educated workforce is important to Maine’s future, so FAME and NextGen are encouraging all Mainers to do whatever they can to help our children, the future faces of Maine, to prepare for higher education.

Want to help?

  • Share posters and brochures with your colleagues and in your community.
  • Reach out to young people in your community, support their dreams and ambitions; reward their accomplishments.
  • Encourage local employers to educate employees about NextGen and benefits for Maine residents.
  • Share FAME’s education resources with students and their families in your community to help them prepare, apply, and pay for education after high school.
  • If you have a parent or other family member or friend who wants to open a NextGen account for a child, consider offering to make the required initial contribution. It only takes $25 (and if you are, or your beneficiary is, a Maine resident, the account may receive a $200 Initial Matching Grant, if eligible).
  • Share our “Talk About the Future” conversation starters in your school newsletter or on your website.
K-12 Professionals

An educated workforce is important to Maine’s future.

We are enlisting help so that Maine’s future workforce can prepare and save for higher education. An educated workforce is important to Maine’s future, so FAME and NextGen are encouraging all Mainers to do whatever they can to help our children, the future faces of Maine, to prepare for higher education.

Want to help?

  • Share posters and brochures with teachers, staff and parents.
  • Suggest that teachers invite students to talk about what they want to be when they grow up. Encourage teachers to share with students their own career pathways.
  • Encourage teachers to post banners from the college they attended in their classroom.
  • Have community members come into the classroom to talk about their experiences.
  • Share FAME’s free resources for educational professionals with your students and their families to help them prepare, apply and pay for education after high school.
  • Share our “Talk About the Future” conversation starters in your school newsletter or on your website.
  • Invite FAME to conduct an information or enrollment session about opening NextGen accounts or other financial aid or financial education topics.
  • Play Claim Your Future® with students online and in the classroom to explore careers and education after high school.
  • Check out our Wednesday Webinar series — typically held the second Wednesday of the month — as well as our other training and informational webinars.
  • Be sure to include a link from your website to FAMEmaine.com/education.
  • Sign up for and share FAME’s 5 on the 5th — monthly tips to help prepare, apply and pay for education after high school.
  • Encourage students to apply for financial aid by completing the FAFSA — available starting October 1.

Join us! There is something everyone can do to help ME, from parents to employers, from business owners to educational leaders, from community leaders to legislators. Join FAME and our partners to Invest in ME, by investing in the future faces of Maine!

Increasing college savings and lowering student loan debt will boost Maine’s economy. FAME is rallying everyone in Maine to take part in the “Invest in ME” movement that gives organizations and individuals something they can do to make a difference. Studies prove that an educated workforce, unburdened of student loan debt, helps create strong, resilient citizens and economies1,2,3,4. Business leaders have an important role in investing in the future education of Maine families. As leaders they can help build aspirations, encourage investing in the future and make education more available to today’s workforce.


Why do college savings and lower student loan debt affect Maine’s economy?

  1. Economic growth depends on a highly educated workforce; and instilling aspirations to higher education begins at an early age.
  2. If Maine were to grow 65,000 more jobs, 60% of the workforce would need education beyond high school to meet future workforce demands.1
  3. College savings increase college aspirations AND completion. Children with college savings are 6 times more likely to attend college.2 Low & moderate income children with college savings between $1 – 499 are 3 times more likely to attend to college, 4 times more likely to graduate from college.3
  4. Student debt limits graduates’ job choice and their ability to launch a new business, buy a home, start a family and save for retirement.4
  5. Community leaders, educators, legislative leaders and the business community all have a vested interest in educating the workforce.