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National College Savings Program

North Carolina's National College Savings program features Vanguard funds in its age-based and static options, and a federally-insured deposit option through the State Employees Credit Union.

Our Ratingx

4 of 5

Fee Scorex

4.5 of 5


4.5 of 5
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  • Program typeSavings
  • Inception2001
  • State agency
    North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority
  • Tax deduction
  • Program Manager
    College Foundation, Inc.
  • Program distributor
    College Foundation, Inc.
  • Manager contract termUNLOCK PRO

Ratings & Rankings

Our overall rating for NC 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.

4.55of 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?

Individuals at least 18 years old, emancipated minors, 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.

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Maximum contributions:

Accepts contributions until all account balances in the NC 529 plan for the same beneficiary reach $450,000.

Minimum contributions:

The minimum initial contribution is $25 and the minimum subsequent contribution is $25.

Investment Options

Age-based investment options:

The Vanguard Age-Based Option offers a choice among 3 different risk levels (Aggressive, Moderate, or Conservative). Contributions are placed into the portfolio corresponding to the selected risk level and number of years to expected enrollment, and later reassigned to more conservative portfolios until the beneficiary reaches age 19.View more age-based investment options

Static investment options:

Select among a fixed-income portfolio (The Dependable Income Fund), five multi-fund portfolios,four individual-fund portfolios, and a federally-insured deposit account through State Employees' Credit Union. An equity-indexed investment, the Protected Stock Fund, was closed to new investments on February 27, 2008. Also, a 100% equity portfolio, the Active Core Equity Fund, was closed January 31, 2011.View more static investment options

Underlying investments:

The Vanguard Age-Based option offers a choice between Aggressive, Moderate or Conservative Tracks all of which invest in Vanguard mutual funds. The multi-fund and individual options invest in Vanguard mutual funds also. The Dependable Income Fund uses the state treasurer's short-term investment portfolio.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:

A $1.50/month ($18.00/year) fee is assessed per Account for paper delivery of statements and confirmations. This fee is waived if the Participant elects to receive electronic delivery.

Program management fees:


Expenses of the underlying investments:

Vanguard Age-Based Options: Ranges from 0.09% to 0.15%

Vanguard Individual and Multi-fund Options: 0.06% to 0.13%

Federally-Insured Deposit Account: None

Total asset-based expense ratio:

0.25% - 0.40%

Taxes and other Benefits

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


North Carolina doesn't offer tax deductions

Program match on contributions:


State tax deduction or credit for contributions:


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 North Carolina and non-North Carolina 529 plans are exempt.

State tax treatment of rollovers:

North Carolina 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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enroll now
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Distributions & Terminations

To whom are distributions made payable:

Participant, designated beneficiary, or copayable to the beneficiary and eligible educational institution, as directed by the participant.

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

National College Savings Program logo
enroll now
36,860 clicked to enroll