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NextGen College Investing Plan -- Client Direct Series


Merrill Lynch manages the Maine NextGen College Investing Plan -- Client Direct Series 529 program utilizing BlackRock (including iShares) funds in its age-based and static options. In addition, the Principal Plus Portfolio and NextGen Savings Portfolio are offered.

5-Cap Rating

Non-Resident:'s 5-Cap Ratings provides an evaluation and comparison of 529 plans, utilizing a formula that examines dozens of factors grouped into the following categories. (Scale 0 to 5; 5 is highest)

Performance Costs Features Reliability Resident Upgrade
4.25 4.26 3.63 4.60 0.20

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Program type:


How to enroll:

Enroll directly with the program. Enroll Now

Initial year of operation:


State agency(ies):

Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) with investment oversight provided by the State Treasurer

Program manager:

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated

Program distributor:

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated

Manager contract term:

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State residency requirements:


Who can be a participant/owner in the program?

U.S. citizens and resident aliens at least 18 years old, UGMA/UTMA custodians, and legal entities.

Significant time or age restrictions imposed by the program:



Maximum contributions:

Accepts contributions until all account balances in 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $400,000.

Minimum contributions:

With lump-sum contributions, the minimum initial contribution is $25; may be waived for Maine residents eligible for certain grants and the minimum subsequent contribution is $25. With the automatic investment plan, there is no initial contribution required but subsequent automated contributions must be at least $25 per month. All contributions must allocate a minimum of $25 per portfolio.

Investment Options

Age-based investment options:

Choose between two age-based options with six portfolios each. One invests in BlackRock funds, the other invests in iShares ETFs. Contributions are placed into the portfolio corresponding to the beneficiary's age. The portfolios automatically shift to a more conservative investment allocation over time.

Static investment options:

Select from an iShares fixed-income portfolio, an iShares diversified equity Portfolio, an iShares balanced portfolio, two BlackRock equity portfolios, a BlackRock balanced portfolio, a BlackRock fixed income portfolio, the Principal Plus Portfolio or NextGen Savings Portfolio.

Underlying investments:

BlackRock, iShares. The Principal Plus Portfolio consists of one or more guaranteed investment contracts issued by one or more insurance companies, deposits in an interest-bearing FDIC-insured bank account at Bank of America, N.A., and to the extent approved by FAME, corporate fixed-income investments and/or similar instruments. . The NextGen Savings Portfolio is comprised of an interest-bearing bank deposit account with Bank of America, N.A.

Underlying fund allocations:

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Investment performance link:

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Portfolio Fees & Performance Lookup

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Fees & Expenses

Enrollment or application fee:


Account maintenance fee:


Program management fees:

None for the BlackRock Age-Based and NextGen Savings Portfolio; 0.07% for the BlackRock Equity Index Portfolio (no state fee), 0.20% for the iShares portfolios (no state administrative fee).

Expenses of the underlying investments:

Ranges from 0.10% to 0.69% (portfolio weighted average) in the age-based and static multi-fund portfolios, 0.12% in the BlackRock Equity Index Portfolio, 0.31% in the iShares Balanced Portfolio. None for the Principal Plus Portfolio and NextGen Savings Portfolio.

Total asset-based expense ratio:

0.00% - 0.69%

Taxes and other Benefits

Program match on contributions:

New accounts opened for Maine residents are eligible for three one-time grants: a NextGen Initial Matching Grant of $200 if the account is opened since January 1, 2011 with at least $25; a NextStep Matching Grant which provides a 50% match on contributions up to $100 per year with a lifetime maximum of $1,000; and a NextGen Automated Funding Grant of $50 by choosing the automated funding option and making six consecutive contributions no less frequently than quarterly, and no less than $25 monthly.

Separately, the Harold Alfond College Challenge makes a one-time $500 grant available to all Maine babies to start a NextGen account before their first birthday, regardless of family income.

State tax deduction or credit for contributions:

Contributions to Maine AND non-Maine 529 plans of up to $250 per beneficiary per year are deductible in computing Maine taxable income for taxpayers with federal adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less (single or married filing separate) or $200,000 or less (joint or head of household).

Value of in-state tax benefits:

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State tax recapture provisions:


State tax treatment of qualified distributions:

Qualified distributions from Maine and non-Maine 529 plans are exempt.

State tax treatment of rollovers:

Maine follows federal tax-free treatment.

Does the sponsoring state exclude the value of an account for state financial aid purposes?


Does participation in the program provide beneficiaries with any advantages in qualifying for resident tuition status at state institutions?


Does the program have a formal agreement with a rewards program or outside scholarship program?


Statutory protection of an account from creditors:

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Distributions & Terminations

To whom are distributions made payable:

Eligible educational institution, beneficiary, or account owner, as directed by the account owner.

Account Changes

Policy regarding participant/owner changes:

Accepts requests to transfer account ownership.

Documents, Access & Reporting

Does participant have online password-protected access to account?


Can the complete enrollment process including funding be done online?


Documents and other services accessible or downloadable on the program's public Web site:

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Web site:

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