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The Daily Tar Heel

N.C. College Savings Program Restructured

The new plan includes tax exemptions on savings accounts, options for mobility between accounts and student income bracket status for family savings.

Initially established in 1998, the College Vision Fund offered only one investment option for families.

The new plan, administered by the CFNC, expands the old plan to include five investment options that will be managed by the state.

The plan also will be open to out-of-state investors for the first time.

Steve Brooks, executive director of the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority, said the state agency is waiting to finalize contracts with investment professionals.

"There will be five options beginning December 1," Brooks said.

The state will retain its original spending plan, in which families invest within the State Treasury Department in low-risk securities.

The second option, the Lifecycle Fund, allows participants to invest money once, depending on a child's age. Through a contract with J. & W. Seligman & Co., professional money managers will invest the money on behalf of participants.

The Aggressive Stock Option will be an account in which participants invest in the stock market through professional advisers.

The Balanced Fund, the fourth option, combines stocks and income funds.

The last option, the Protective Stock Fund, has a guaranteed principal. By subtracting fees each month, the fund will be protected from stock market shocks.

"We're hoping we'll be offering options that are attractive to different people," Brooks said.

Participants may also change plans once during a 12-month period without incurring penalty fees.

The new plan is not restricted to investing through the Treasury Office and is exempted from all taxes beginning January 2002.

A federal bill passed this summer makes the tax exemptions possible.

The law mandates that earnings on the accounts will be tax-exempt if the money is used for educational purposes.

Final contract negotiations will solidify each of the three remaining options for the December announcement.

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