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NextGen College Investing Plan -- Client Direct Series logo

NextGen College Investing Plan -- Client Direct Series

The Maine NextGen 529 -- Client Direct Series is available through Merrill Edge. The plan utilizes BlackRock (including iShares) funds in its age-based and static options. In addition, the Principal Plus Portfolio and the NextGen Savings Portfolio are available.

Our Ratingx

4.5 of 5

Fee Scorex

4.5 of 5


4.5 of 5
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  • Program typeSavings
  • Inception1999
  • State agency
    Finance Authority of Maine (FAME)
  • Tax deduction
  • Program Manager
    Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated
  • Program distributor
    Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated
  • Manager contract termUNLOCK PRO

Ratings & Rankings

Our overall rating for ME residents

This is an excellent program with many benefits for the participant and positive investment attributes. If it has any significant weaknesses then it also has some particularly good things to recommend it.

Our overall rating for non-residents

This is an excellent program with many benefits for the participant and positive investment attributes. If it has any significant weaknesses then it also has some particularly good things to recommend it.'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.

4.39of 5

Each plan's performance score is developed directly from's Quarterly 529 Performance Rankings. A 529 savings plan must have at least one year of performance history before they will be assigned a 5-cap rating. For those plans that are not part of our quarterly performance rankings, such as plans offering a single set of bank-based investment options, we assign a performance score by evaluating the returns currently available on similar types of investments outside of 529 plans.


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:


Did you know?

  • 529 plan contributions grow tax-free.

    Withdrawals are tax-free when used to pay for qualified higher education expenses.

  • You can contribute as much as you want, as often as you want.

    The key is to get started. Enroll today by completing a quick form online.

NextGen College Investing Plan -- Client Direct Series logo
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Maximum contributions:

Accepts contributions until all account balances in 529 plans for the same beneficiary reach $500,000.

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 seven 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.View more age-based investment options

Static investment options:

Select from five diversified portfolios and two single-fund portfolios with funds from BlackRock and iShares, the Principal Plus Portfolio or NextGen Savings Portfolio.View more static investment options

Underlying investments:

BlackRock, iShares. The Principal Plus Portfolio consists of one or more GIA 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.View a full list of this plan's investment options

Underlying fund allocations:


Portfolio Fees & Performance Lookup


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 0.05% to 0.63% (portfolio weighted average) in the age-based and static multi-fund portfolios, 0.11% in the BlackRock Equity Index Portfolio, 0.25% in the iShares Balanced Portfolio. None for the Principal Plus Portfolio and NextGen Savings Portfolio.

Total asset-based expense ratio:

0.00% - 0.63%

Taxes and other Benefits

  • Tax deduction for single filersNone
  • Tax deduction for joint filersNone


Maine doesn't offer tax deductions

Program match on contributions:

New Maine accounts may be eligible to receive a $200 Initial Matching Grant when the account is opened with at least $25 (one grant per eligible beneficiary, no income limitations). The NextStep Matching Grant provides a 50% match on contributions up to a $300 grant per year (one grant per eligible beneficiary, no income limitations). A $100 Automated Funding Grant is available for accounts that make six consecutive contributions, no less frequently than quarterly, through an automated funding option (one grant per account, no income limitations). Separately, if a beneficiary is eligible for the $500 Harold Alfond College Challenge Grant, the initial contribution is waived when a NextGen account is opened. Grants for Maine residents may be used on behalf of the beneficiary at an eligible institution of higher education only.

State tax deduction or credit for contributions:

A deduction is not available for contributions made in tax years beginning after December 31, 2015. Contributions to Maine AND non-Maine 529 plans through the end of 2015 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).

State tax recapture provisions:


State definition of qualified expenses

The state conforms with the federal definition of qualified education expenses, which includes expenses for higher education, as well as up to $10,000 per year in tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school.

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?

Yes, the Upromise Rewards program can be linked to any 529 college savings plan. Upromise Rewards is free to join and offers members cash back for college.

Upromise Helps Families Save for College

Upromise Helps Families Save for College

Statutory protection of an account from creditors:


Did you know?

  • Residents are not limited to investing in their own state's 529 plan.

    Another state may offer a plan that performs better and has lower fees.

  • The 529 plan chosen does not affect which state the student enrolls in.

    You can live in New York, open a plan from Nevada and send a student to college in Florida.

  • The best way to maximize your college savings?

    Start early and save often. You can get started today with easy online enrollment.

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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:





Start saving for your child's future today

Step 1

Click the blue Enroll Now button to the right

Step 2

Complete the online application and make your first deposit

NextGen College Investing Plan -- Client Direct Series logo
enroll now
51,507 clicked to enroll