Recent News Posts


  • Friday, January 23, 2015 8:00 AM

    Maine’s 529 Plan increases grants to encourage investing in your child’s higher education!

     

    The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) has announced that it has increased the amounts of NextGen College Investing Plan® matching grants to help Maine families that invest in education after high school. The annual NextStep Matching Grant is now up to $300 maximum and the Automated Funding Grant has doubled to $100.  NextGen® is Maine’s 529 college savings plan and has been providing families across the state matching grant funds since 2002. NextGen is administered by FAME in conjunction with Program Manager Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated.

    “Planning for education after high school – whether it be technical school or college – is something we hope every Maine family will consider,” said Bruce Wagner, Chief Executive Officer at FAME. “Now, with these increases in matching grants, there is an even more compelling reason to open an account or contribute to an existing one.”


    FAME understands that setting aside money for higher education can feel daunting to many families, but it’s important to remember that every dollar in a college investing account at tuition time is one that does not need to be borrowed and repaid with interest later. “The amount that someone sets aside may be less important than the actual act of regularly investing in your child’s future," said Wagner.  “Children with savings are seven times more likely to pursue higher education."


    NextGen offers generous matching grants to Maine residents:

    • A $200 Initial Matching Grant is available to eligible Maine accounts that are opened with as little as $25 in the Client Direct Series or $50 in the Client Select Series.

     

    • NextStep Matching Grant increases to $300 maximum annually

    The NextStep Matching Grant provides a 50% match on eligible contributions per calendar year, now up to a $300 (previously $100) match per year. For example:

      

     
    $50 Contributions = $25 Grant
    $100 Contributions = $50 Grant
    $200 Contributions = $100 Grant
    $300 Contributions = $150 Grant
    $600 Contributions = $300 Grant

     

     

    • $100 Automated Funding Grant 

    The Automated Funding Grant will increase to $100 (previously $50) for those eligible accounts that have automatic contributions set up through a payroll deduction plan or from a checking or savings account. The Automated Funding Grant is a one-time grant and will be awarded after six consecutive automated contributions no less than quarterly in frequency.


    Account owners can download forms to sign up for automated funding or payroll deduction at FAMEmaine.com/NextGen

     

    Children who are eligible for the $500 Harold Alfond College Challenge Grant may open a NextGen account without making an initial contribution and receive NextStep Matching and Automated Funding Grants for additional contributions, if eligible. For every baby born a Maine resident since 2013, the Alfond Scholarship Foundation invests a $500 Alfond Grant for his or her future qualified higher education expenses.

    FAME created this robust set of grants in an effort to help inspire Maine families to invest in their children’s future. So far, over 35,000 Maine children have NextGen accounts.

    “NextGen’s generous matching grants were just the push we needed to open accounts for our own child and our niece and nephew,” said Mike Dovinsky, an account holder living in West Gardiner. “How can we pass up hundreds of dollars a year in grant money that automatically comes along for doing the right thing for our kids? It was a no-brainer.”

    These grant increases became effective January 1, 2015 and are a great opportunity for families who make automated contributions or want to set up an account. NextGen contributions also make fantastic holiday and birthday gifts, and any contributions made to eligible accounts by friends and family will also count toward the matching grant.

    1 Elliott & Beverly, 2011; American Journal of Education.

    2 Dollar Cost Averaging - Dollar cost averaging and other periodic investments do not ensure a profit and do not protect against loss in declining markets. Such a plan involves continuous investment in securities, regardless of fluctuating price levels of such securities. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue their purchases through periods of high or low price levels.

    3 Children born as Maine residents since January 1, 2013 or who are Maine residents at account opening and under the age of one.

    See Terms and Conditions of Maine Grant Programs for other conditions and restrictions that apply. Grants are subject to change.

    About NextGen
    NextGen is a Section 529 plan administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Before you invest in NextGen, request a NextGen Program Description from your Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor or Maine Distribution Agent or call Merrill Edge at 1-877-4-NEXTGEN (877-463-9843) and read it carefully. The Program Description contains more complete information, including investment objectives, charges, expenses and risks of investing in NextGen, which you should carefully consider before investing. You also should consider whether your or your designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s Section 529 plan.  Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, a registered broker-dealer, member SIPC, is the program manager and underwriter.

    About the Finance Authority of Maine
    FAME is a quasi-independent state agency that expands business and educational opportunities to help Maine people and businesses succeed. To learn more about FAME, please visit FAMEmaine.com


  • Thursday, January 08, 2015 9:11 AM

    The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) has announced that the NextGen College Investing Plan®, Maine’s Section 529 college savings plan, will eliminate the $50 annual account fee for all clients in the advisor-sold (Client Select) series effective January 1, 2015. 

     

    With this change, the NextGen Client Select Series becomes one of only ten advisor-sold 529 college savings plans in the country that does not charge an annual account fee. Annual account fees were already eliminated for all NextGen Direct Series (direct-sold) clients and have always been waived for all Maine resident NextGen account owners and beneficiaries.

     

    The NextGen advisor-sold series is now the nation’s second-largest advisor-sold Section 529 college savings plan, according to Strategic Insight, a mutual fund industry research firm.1 It is the sixth-largest 529 college savings plan overall in the nation. Administered by FAME in conjunction with Program Manager Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, NextGen has over $8.2 billion in assets under management between the advisor-sold plan and the direct-sold plan as of November 30, 2014.

     

    This fee reduction in the advisor-sold program follows other fee reductions recently 

    implemented in NextGen’s direct-sold plan. Effective June 9, 2014, NextGen significantly decreased asset-based fees in the Client Direct Series. Total annual asset-based fees were reduced in most Client Direct Series portfolios by up to ten basis points. 

     

    “We are pleased to again be reducing fees within NextGen,” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner. “We are able to offer these enhancements due to the program’s success, and we’re grateful to Merrill Lynch, the Program Manager, for their cooperation in reducing their fees. It is important for the program to remain competitive with other Section 529 plans around the nation while offering a variety of choices for investors. FAME and its Advisory Committee on College Savings, which is chaired by the Maine State Treasurer, continually evaluate NextGen to identify opportunities to enhance and improve the plan.”

     

    Another positive development concerning 529 savings plans occurred at the federal level recently. Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014. One of the provisions of the law pertains to 529 college savings accounts. As a result, effective January 1, 2015, all 529 college savings plan participants will be permitted to change how their existing investments are allocated twice per calendar year instead of the former once per calendar year rule. It is important to note, however, that account owners can change how their new contributions in a 529 savings plan are invested as often as they want. 

     

    NextGen was created by the Maine Legislature in 1999 as a qualified tuition program under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. NextGen is a tax-advantaged investing program designed to help families prepare for qualified higher education expenses. Anyone at least age eighteen years of age can open an account, regardless of income or state residency, and assets can be used at most accredited U.S. post-secondary institutions. Matching grants are available to eligible accounts.

     

    To learn more about NextGen, please visit www.nextgenplan.com. For information specific to the benefits available to Maine residents for NextGen accounts, please contact FAME at 1-800-228-3734 or visit FAMEmaine.com/NextGen.

     


  • Tuesday, November 18, 2014 10:38 AM

    The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) celebrated another year of successful business and educational partnerships at its annual meeting and awards event, Showcase Maine, which was held on November 13, 2014, at Portland’s Holiday Inn By The Bay.

     

    The evening featured a reception, including a showcase of exhibits by Maine businesses and educational organizations that partner with FAME; a dinner and awards presentation; and a keynote speech by Bull Moose founder Brett Wickard. 

     

    “FAME enjoyed celebrating the successes of the past year with our partners in Maine’s business and higher education communities,” said Bruce Wagner, FAME’s Chief Executive Officer. “We were pleased to recognize key partners with awards and to unveil our future plans for growth as we seek to enhance and expand Maine’s economy.”

     

    This year’s award recipients included:  

     

    St. Croix Tissue, Inc. (Business at Work for Maine Award): St. Croix Tissue, Inc. was recognized for its innovation and adaptability over the years, which is particularly noteworthy considering the challenges facing Maine’s historic papermaking industry. In September of this year, FAME and St. Croix Tissue, Inc. finalized a deal to have FAME issue a $7.5 million bond through FAME’s Major Business Expansion Program. The financing, which benefits the mill in Baileyville, as well as the surrounding economy in Washington County, will help St. Croix and a related company, Woodland Pulp, LLC, create and retain approximately 400 Maine jobs.

     

    Martin Richard of St. Croix Tissue, Inc. accepting FAME's Business at Work for Maine award.

    Photo by Brian Peterson.

     

    Harold Alfond® College Challenge (Education at Work for Maine Award): The Harold Alfond College Challenge (HACC) is a first-of-its-kind legacy gift to help Maine families save for and aspire to higher education. The program awards a $500 grant for qualified higher education expenses to eligible Maine children. More than $20 million has been invested for over 40,000 Maine children since the program’s inception. In 2014, the grant became more broadly available, with the Alfond Scholarship Foundation now making the $500 grant (plus any earnings) available to all children born as Maine residents.  

     

    Travis Cummings, Colleen Quint and Greg Powell of the Harold Alfond® College Challenge

    accepting FAME's Education at Work for Maine award. Photo by Brian Peterson.

     

    Camden National Bank (Financial Institution of the Year Award): Camden National Bank was honored with an award for a fifth time. Over the past year, Camden National partnered with FAME on 67 loans totaling over $13.8 million. This in turn helped to create 209 Maine jobs and retain an additional 657 jobs. The bank also is committed to the communities it serves, supporting a variety of business, community, and non-profit organizations. 

     

    Hon. Brian Langley of Hancock County (Dirigo Legislative Champion Award):  Langley, a state senator representing Hancock County, is also a chef, entrepreneur, and former educator. He serves on the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. Sen. Langley has been an active supporter of the Bridge Year Program, a collaborative effort involving the faculty and teamwork of Hermon High School; the United Technologies Center in Bangor; Eastern Maine Community College; and the University of Maine.

     

    Prior to the dinner and awards ceremony, the FAME Board met for its monthly meeting and approved financing for two Maine businesses involved in the natural resources sector: North Atlantic, Inc., a Portland-based wholesale importer and distributor of frozen seafood; and Lincoln Paper & Tissue, LLC, a Lincoln-based manufacturer of commodity and specialty tissue products. The board approved the renewal of loan insurance on a Bangor Savings Bank $5 million line of credit for North Atlantic.  FAME has supported the company’s financing needs since 2009, and the board’s action will help the company retain seven jobs. The board also approved a $1 million direct loan to Lincoln Paper & Tissue for working capital needs following a fire and flood at the facility in recent years. FAME’s actions will help the mill retain 175 direct jobs and hundreds more indirect jobs in the local economy. 

     

    “Lincoln Paper & Tissue greatly appreciates FAME’s swift assistance and commitment to the success of the mill,” stated Keith Van Scotter, President & CEO. “FAME’s efforts and commitment to the region will go a long way toward helping to retain good-paying jobs in the area and to a bright future for the facility.”

     

    Finally, the board also elected new officers for the 2015 year:  Raymond Nowak was re-elected to serve as chair; James Violette, Jr. was elected as vice-chair; and Cheri Walker was re-elected as treasurer.  

     


  • Thursday, November 06, 2014 9:27 AM

    The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) will celebrate another year of successful business and educational partnerships at its annual meeting and awards event, Showcase Maine, on Thursday, November 13, 2014, beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Portland’s Holiday Inn By The Bay.

     

    Showcase Maine is FAME’s annual celebration of its successful partnerships with Maine’s business, lending, and higher education communities. The evening will feature a reception, including a showcase of exhibits by Maine businesses and educational organizations that partner with FAME; a dinner and awards presentation; and a keynote speech by Bull Moose founder Brett Wickard.

     

    Wickard founded Bull Moose in 1989 following his junior year at Bowdoin College. What began as a makeshift CD store with a cash register on a cardboard box has grown to be the largest retailer of music, movies, books, and videogames in Maine and seacoast New Hampshire, operating eleven stores and employing 200 people.

     

    “FAME looks forward to celebrating the successes of the past year with our partners in Maine’s business and higher education communities,” said Bruce Wagner, FAME’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are eager to showcase our current partnerships with Maine businesses and educational organizations, and to unveil our future plans for growth as we seek to enhance and expand Maine’s economy.”

     

    This year’s award recipients include: 

    • St. Croix Tissue, Inc. (Business at Work for Maine Award): St. Croix Tissue, Inc. is being recognized for its innovation and adaptability over the years, which is particularly noteworthy considering the challenges facing Maine’s historic papermaking industry. In September of this year, FAME and St. Croix Tissue, Inc. finalized a deal to have FAME issue a $7.5 million bond through FAME’s Major Business Expansion Program. The financing, which benefits the mill in Baileyville, as well as the surrounding economy in Washington County, will help St. Croix and a related company, Woodland Pulp, LLC, create and retain approximately 400 Maine jobs.
    • Harold Alfond College Challenge (Education at Work for Maine Award):The Harold Alfond College Challenge (HACC) is a first-of-its-kind legacy gift to help Maine families save for and aspire to higher education. The program awards a $500 grant for qualified higher education expenses to eligible Maine children. More than $20 million has been invested for over 40,000 Maine children since the program’s inception. In 2014, the grant became more broadly available, with the Alfond Scholarship Foundation now making the $500 grant (plus any earnings) available to all children born as Maine residents.  
    • Camden National Bank (Financial Institution of the Year Award): Camden National Bank will be honored with an award for a fifth time. Over the past year, Camden National partnered with FAME on 67 loans totaling over $13.8 million. This in turn helped to create 209 Maine jobs and retain an additional 657 jobs. The bank also is committed to the communities it serves, supporting a variety of business, community, and non-profit organizations.
    • Hon. Brian Langley of Hancock County (Dirigo Legislative Champion Award):  Langley, a state senator representing Hancock County, is also a chef, entrepreneur, and former educator. He serves on the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. He is a strong supporter of FAME’s mission, especially with respect to providing higher education opportunities for all Maine students. Sen. Langley has been an active supporter of the Bridge Year Program, a collaborative effort involving the faculty and teamwork of Hermon High School; the United Technologies Center in Bangor; Eastern Maine Community College; and the University of Maine.

     

    Posted in: FAME News

  • Friday, October 24, 2014 9:28 AM

    The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) is currently displaying artwork by Catherine Gram of Fairfield. The exhibit is called Flowers Galore (…and a wee bit more). FAME strives to bring visibility to the achievements of Maine artists by providing opportunities to exhibit their artwork and to inspire passion about art in others. 

     

    Gram works in watercolors with occasional use of pen and ink. She finds delight in her immediate natural world and likes to challenge herself by duplicating that delight on paper. Rather than striving for a truly realistic replication of what she sees, Gram is more a follower of the philosophy expressed by Picasso: “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” Gram’s watercolor paintings, while whimsical, are carefully composed to play with color and motion. “What I love most about watercolor is the dialogue between the medium and the painter. It is a true conversation and the final product is sometimes a bit of a surprise.”

     

    Gram has lived in Maine for nearly thirty years and has been inspired by the great natural beauty of the state. She is concurrently exhibiting another series of watercolor paintings called Seaside Galore (...and a wee bit more) at the Skidompha Library in Damariscotta.

     

    Gram’s childhood was divided between time spent in upstate New York and in France. She studied Art History at Vassar and Hamilton Colleges and also completed an internship at the world-renowned Jeu de Paume and l’Orangerie museums in Paris, France. As she studied the works of other artists, Gram worked on her own artistic expression whenever time allowed. “Since the 1990s, it has been a dream of mine to have a body of work worthy of sharing with the public," she explains. 

     

    The public may view Gram’s exhibition for free at FAME’s Augusta office through November 28, 2014. FAME is open Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  FAME’s office is located near the Augusta Civic Center at 5 Community Drive, Augusta, Exit 112 off I-95.       

     

     

    To learn more about FAME art exhibits and openings, or if you are an artist who would like to have your work considered for exhibition, please contact FAME at 1-800-228-3734.

    Posted in: FAME News

  • Thursday, October 09, 2014 10:52 AM

    The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) is pleased to announce a statewide expansion of the SALT program in Maine. Created by American Student Assistance (ASA), SALT is an innovative program designed to empower college students and alumni to confidently approach, manage, and pay back their student loans while gaining financial skills for life. 

     

    In 2012, FAME and ASA launched SALT as a pilot program at ten participating Maine colleges and universities. As a result of the pilot, Maine has become a national leader in its statewide efforts to promote financial literacy. Colleges and universities across the state have engaged thousands of students to utilize SALT, which offers well-timed, neutral financial education resources, advice, and self-paced courses designed from the student’s point of view. Students also have access to live one-on-one counseling from trained advisors who can answer students’ questions objectively and advocate on their behalf.

     

    FAME’s newest effort will extend SALT in Maine for an additional two years, and will be offered at all interested Maine colleges at a reduced sponsorship level, made possible by financial support from FAME and ASA. In addition, all Maine high school students will have access to a customized saltmoney.org site, including interactive money management lessons, a scholarship search tool, and resources to assist in college planning.

     

    “Maine students often try to navigate the college financing and loan repayment waters with inadequate knowledge of the process and without thinking through the consequences of their indebtedness,” said FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner. “FAME already offers many services to support students in their pursuit of higher education. With the statewide launch of SALT, FAME is providing another opportunity for Maine students to be better prepared to plan their futures.” 

     

     

    Through this first of its kind collaboration with ASA and Maine colleges, FAME will continue to fulfill its mission to support Maine students, recognizing that an educated and financially capable student leads to economic stability statewide.


  • Monday, October 06, 2014 10:53 AM

    The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) continues to maintain impressively low cohort default rates for Maine student loan borrowers. According to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Education, FAME’s federal Fiscal Year 2011 three-year cohort default rate was 7.1 percent of borrowers. This represents nearly a full percentage point decrease compared to last year’s rate of 8.0 percent. By comparison, the national three-year average was 13.7 percent, which represents a one-point drop from last year’s national average of 14.7 percent. The cumulative rate for other guaranty agencies like FAME was 9.4 percent. Maine’s official rate was 12.8 percent, but this represents the addition of federal direct loan borrowers to the cohort. Direct loan borrowers interact with the U.S. Department of Education regarding their loans, and not with FAME.

     

    Cohort Default Rates measure the percentage of all federal Stafford Loan borrowers entering repayment in a given federal fiscal year who default on their loans prior to the end of the second following fiscal year. This is the first year that only a three-year rate is being released by the U.S. Department of Education. A three-year cohort default rate is the percentage of a school's borrowers who enter repayment on certain Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program or William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loans during a particular federal fiscal year, October 1 to September 30, and default or meet other specified conditions prior to the end of the second following fiscal year.
     
    “FAME’s ability to maintain a low default rate benefits lenders, schools, and, most importantly, Maine students,” stated FAME Board Chair Ray Nowak. “FAME’s default rate is the result of expanded college access, financial education and debt management services that support financial aid offices and educate borrowers.”
     
    “These results show the value of the personalized financial education and default prevention efforts of FAME and our lender partners. FAME’s emphasis on default prevention is the right one for Maine students and families,” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner.
     
    FAME believes that financial education is the cornerstone of debt management and default prevention. Two years ago, FAME launched SALT, a collaboration with American Student Assistance that delivers financial education and debt management services free-of-charge to Maine students and alumni. The vast majority of Maine college students now have access to SALT’s proactive debt management services, and FAME recently secured an agreement to expand SALT statewide.

     

    In 2015, FAME will continue its commitment to providing financial education in Maine by co-sponsoring “Fostering Financial Education in Maine Schools,” a financial literacy conference for Maine teachers, administrators, counselors and others. 

     


  • Thursday, October 02, 2014 8:49 AM

    At its September 18, 2014 meeting, the Board of Directors of the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) approved approximately $3 million in financing for a variety of Maine businesses, including a Scarborough-based day care; a machinery manufacturer in Benton; a specialized pharmacy in Portland; and a specialty sawmill operator in Jefferson. FAME’s actions will help to create and retain more than 339 jobs in the state.

     

    FAME approved a total of $1.3 million in commercial loan insurance for Toddle Inn Day Care, Inc., of Scarborough, which operates six daycare facilities in Westbrook, Gorham, South Portland, Cumberland Foreside, Saco, and Scarborough. The FAME insurance supports a mortgage and direct loan provided to the company by Camden National Bank, and will help the company restructure existing debt and improve company cash flow. The financing is expected to help create up to eight new jobs and retain 142 existing jobs.  

     

    “FAME’s assistance will help our company to improve and expand our services,” stated Cheryl Carrier, President of Toddle Inn Day Care, Inc.

     

    FAME also renewed 90% pro rata loan insurance on a $550,000 line of credit provided by Androscoggin Bank to B&B Precise Products, Inc., of Benton. The company manufactures machined parts and assembled components. The financing will help the company add six to ten jobs and retain another fifty existing jobs.

     

    Apothecary by Design, LLC, is a specialty pharmacy based in Portland. FAME renewed insurance on an $850,000 line of credit provided to the company by Bangor Savings Bank.  FAME’s actions will help the company retain sixty-three jobs.

     

    Finally, FAME approved the restructuring of four loans by People’s United Bank that it insures to N.C. Hunt, Inc., of Jefferson. The company operates a specialty sawmill in Jefferson and makes sales to both retail and wholesale customers throughout New England and Canada.  FAME’s actions will help the company to retain sixty-six jobs.

     

    "FAME is pleased to be able to partner with others in these transactions to assist these Maine companies, along with the many other businesses our staff works with on an ongoing basis. Helping to retain and create good jobs is an important part of our overall mission to help foster a stronger Maine economy,” stated FAME Board Chair Ray Nowak.  

     

    Posted in: FAME News, Business News

  • Wednesday, September 17, 2014 8:45 AM

    The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) has completed bond financing on a deal that will benefit St. Croix Tissue, Inc. in Baileyville and the surrounding economy in Washington County. The financing will help St. Croix and a related company, Woodland Pulp, LLC, create and retain approximately 400 Maine jobs.

     

    FAME and St. Croix Tissue, Inc. today closed on a deal to have FAME issue a $7.5 million taxable bond supported by the moral obligation of the state through FAME’s Major Business Expansion Program. 

     

    The bond financing had previously been approved by the FAME Board of Directors at its March 20, 2014 meeting. The proceeds will be used to partially finance St. Croix’s purchase and installation of two new, large tissue-making machines on a site that is a portion of Woodland’s Baileyville mill complex. FAME’s financing leverages additional project financing including debt and equity totaling over $120 million for the St. Croix project. Construction has already commenced; one machine will be in operation by the end of 2015, while the second machine is expected to start in the first quarter of 2016.

     

    “FAME is pleased to support St. Croix tissue with its plans for growth and success” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner. “We know how important it is for the company to invest in value-added products and remain competitive in the global market. FAME’s financing should also help provide a boost for the Washington County economy.”

     

    “We very much appreciate FAME’s support for the project and the company’s plans for growth and success in the worldwide tissue market,” stated Bert Martin, Director of Woodland Pulp and St. Croix Tissue.

     

    Posted in: FAME News, Business News

  • Tuesday, August 12, 2014 1:12 PM

    The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) recently announced that the Client Select Series of the NextGen College Investing Plan® (NextGen) is now the nation’s second-largest advisor-sold Section 529 college savings plan, according to Strategic Insight, a mutual fund industry research firm.  Administered by FAME in conjunction with Program Manager Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, NextGen has over $8 billion in assets under management between the advisor-sold plan and the direct-sold plan as of June 30, 2014.

     

    “We are very pleased by NextGen’s growth and success,” stated FAME Board Chair Ray Nowak.  “The investment choices have made NextGen a good fit for many families around the nation saving for college, and the matching grants and other benefits created specifically for Maine residents are among the most generous available.”

     

    Also, effective June 9, 2014, NextGen significantly decreased fees in the Client Direct Series, the direct-sold plan.  Total annual asset-based fees were reduced by ten basis points in all Client Direct Series actively managed portfolios, and by five basis points in all Client Direct Series iShares exchange traded fund (ETF) portfolios.  As a result, annual asset-based fees in the Client Direct Series now range from 0 to 69 basis points, with the passively managed iShares ETF portfolios ranging from 30 to 51 basis points. 

     

    “We are pleased to be reducing fees within NextGen,” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner.  “We are able to offer these enhancements due to the program’s success, and we’re grateful to Merrill Lynch, the Program Manager, for their cooperation in reducing their fees.  It is important for the program to remain competitive with other Section 529 plans around the nation while offering a variety of choices for investors.  FAME and its Advisory Committee on College Savings, which is chaired by Maine State Treasurer Neria Douglass, continually evaluate NextGen to identify opportunities to enhance and improve the plan.”

     

    NextGen was established by the state of Maine in 1999 as a qualified tuition program under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.  NextGen is a tax-advantaged investing program designed to help families prepare for qualified higher education expenses.  Anyone at least age eighteen years of age can open an account, regardless of income or state residency, and assets can be used at any accredited U.S. post-secondary institution.  Matching grants are available to eligible accounts.  529 plans can be opened directly with the plan (direct-sold) or through a financial advisor (advisor-sold).  

     

    To learn more about NextGen, please visit www.nextgenplan.com.  For information specific to the benefits available to Maine residents for NextGen accounts, please contact FAME at 1-800-228-3734 or visit www.famemaine.com/nextgen. 

    FAME is a quasi-independent state agency that provides innovative financial solutions to help Maine people and businesses pursue educational and business opportunities. To learn more about FAME, please visit www.famemaine.com.

     

    The NextGen Plan is a Section 529 plan administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Please remember there’s always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities. Before you invest in the NextGen plan, request a NextGen College Investing Plan Program Description from your Maine bank or financial advisor, or call FAME at 1-800-228-3734 and read it carefully. The Program Description contains more complete information, including investment objectives, charges, expenses and risks of investing in the NextGen plan, which you should carefully consider before investing. You also should consider whether your or your designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 plan.  Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, a registered broker-dealer, member SIPC, is the program manager and underwriter.

     

    Neither Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates nor the Finance Authority of Maine provide legal, tax or accounting advice. Investors should consult their legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.