More N.D. parents eligible for college savings planNorth Dakota couples who make up to $80,000 could be eligible for a newly expanded Bank of North Dakota program that offers $300 matching grants to help participants get started on saving for college.
BISMARCK (AP) — North Dakota couples who make up to $80,000 could be eligible for a newly expanded Bank of North Dakota program that offers $300 matching grants to help participants get started on saving for college.
The changes in the College SAVE plan, which take effect Jan. 1, will double the amount of income a single taxpayer or a married couple may make and still qualify for aid. The first $300 of a participant’s college savings will be matched by the state.
“It’s going to help more people enroll in the program and save for a college education. I think it’s a very good idea,” said Gov. John Hoeven, the chairman of the state Industrial Commission, which is the board of directors for the state-owned bank.
The income limit for a single taxpayer will rise from $20,000 to $40,000, while the new threshold for couples who file a joint tax return is jumping from $40,000 to $80,000.
Savers who still fall below the present income limits will be eligible for an extra benefit, said Eric Hardmeyer, the Bank of North Dakota’s president. They may qualify for $300 in matching grants annually for three consecutive years.
“In this economy, families need help saving for college,” Hardmeyer said.
Typically, parents, grandparents and relatives use the savings accounts to put aside college money for children and grandchildren.
Single taxpayers may deduct contributions of up to $5,000 from their North Dakota income tax returns, while married couples may deduct up to $10,000.
Only the first 1,000 beneficiaries who qualify for the grant program each year will receive aid, Hardmeyer said. The accounts’ beneficiaries also must be no more than 12 years old.
“Not only has the cost of a college education increased, obviously, but people’s savings, with what’s happened in the stock market, have gone down,” Hoeven said. “It’s a good program, and it’s the right time to expand it, and enhance the incentives.”