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North Carolina's National College Savings Program Adds Vanguard Investment Options, Upromise Rewards.

RALEIGH, N.C., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- North Carolina's National College Savings Program, the state of North Carolina sponsored 529 college saving plan, has expanded its investment options to include funds from The Vanguard Group and has chosen Upromise Investments, Inc. as the program's new recordkeeper and administrative services agent.

Vanguard, a leader in high-value, low-cost investing, will add ten diversified investment options to the N.C. 529 plan, all with an all-inclusive low annual cost of 0.75% ($7.50 per $1,000 invested). The Vanguard investments include three Age-based Options designed for investors who prefer a simple, professionally managed college savings program. The Vanguard Age- based Options automatically adjust an investor's asset allocation to more conservative portfolios as a child nears college. The three Age-based Options are complemented by seven individual Vanguard Investment Portfolios, which provide investors with the flexibility to construct and manage their own investment.

North Carolina has a multi-manager 529 plan featuring a broad range of investment options from six investment managers. In addition to The Vanguard Group, the State Treasurer manages the Dependable Income Fund, MetLife provides the Protected Stock Fund guarantee, Wachovia Bank, through its affiliate, Evergreen Investment Management Co., manages the Balanced Fund, NCM Capital Management Group manages the Aggressive Stock Fund, and J.W. Seligman & Co. manages a life-cycle fund, known as CollegeHorizonFunds.

Upromise Investments will work with College Foundation, Inc., the program administrator on behalf of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, to provide administrative services to participants in the program. With the addition of Upromise Investments, program participants will also benefit from the ability to add to their college savings accounts through the optional Upromise rewards service. The Upromise rewards service is free to join, and helps families save for college when they make qualified purchases of participating products from Upromise partners. The rewards can be transferred into the participant's college savings account in North Carolina's program on a periodic basis, subject to a minimum $25 transfer balance.

"Whether you are looking at performance, fees or flexibility, North Carolina's National College Savings Program has been a great option for college funding. Now, with the addition of the new index funds and the Upromise rewards, the program is better than ever," said Steve Brooks, executive director of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, which established and maintains the state's 529 plan.

"Vanguard is very pleased to provide its low-cost index funds and age- based investment options to participants in North Carolina's National College Savings Program," said John Heywood, principal, The Vanguard Group. "The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority has built a college savings program that can meet the needs of both sophisticated investors and those who prefer having the plan implement their savings strategy. We look forward to helping its participants meet their college savings goals."

"Upromise is excited to team up with the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, College Foundation and Vanguard to help bring new options for college savings to North Carolina residents," said Jim Fadule, president of Upromise Investments, Inc. "Through the Upromise rewards service, North Carolina families can add to their college savings on everyday purchases like groceries and gas. And with Upromise's leading web-based 529 system, families will be able to manage their 529 accounts online, and have their Upromise savings automatically invested with North Carolina's National College Savings Program."

In total, Upromise has over 1,500 retail partner locations in North Carolina, including restaurants, gas stations, and major grocery and drug stores.

North Carolina's National College Savings Program lets anyone -- parents, grandparents, friends and relatives -- invest for college on behalf of a child. Participants do not need to be a North Carolina resident and can use their 529 savings to pay for qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, books, supplies, and room and board at any college, university, community college, or accredited technical training school in the United States.

As part of the recent enhancements to North Carolina's National College Savings Program, new enrollees and current account holders will enjoy additional online features, such as new account enrollment, additional account management functionality, and electronic delivery of account statements and transaction confirmations. For more information or to enroll, visit http://www.cfnc.org/savings or call toll-free 800-600-3453.

About The Vanguard Group

The Vanguard Group, headquartered in Valley Forge, Pa., is the nation's second largest mutual fund firm and a leading provider of 529 college savings plans. Vanguard manages more than $980 billion in U.S. mutual fund assets, including more than $11 billion in 529 college savings plans through 15 states. Vanguard offers 130 funds to U.S. investors and more than 40 additional funds in foreign markets.

About Upromise

Upromise's mission is to help families save and prepare for college. The Upromise services division includes our popular loyalty service, which allows families to automatically save money for college while making everyday purchases at more than 20,000 grocery and drug stores, 14,000 gas stations, 8,000 restaurants, thousands of retail stores and more than 350 online shopping sites. Upromise's partners include Citi(R), Coca-Cola(R), ExxonMobil Corporation, Kimberly-Clark, McDonald's(R), JCPenney.com, LandsEnd.com, Sears.com, and hundreds of others. More than seven million parents, grandparents, and family friends have joined Upromise -- and our partner contributions today represent the largest private source of college aid in America. Upromise also makes it easy for families to invest in tax-advantaged college savings plans and to use contributions to pay off student loans. The 529 college savings plans are offered through Upromise Investments, Inc. (member NASD/SIPC). Upromise is headquartered in Needham, Mass. For additional information, visit http://www.upromise.com/ or call 781.707.8400.

About College Foundation, Inc.

In addition to administering North Carolina's National College Savings Program, College Foundation, Inc. (CFI) is a partner with the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority and Pathways of North Carolina in the free information service, College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC). CFI, a nonprofit corporation serving North Carolina students and families since 1955, administers a portfolio of more than $2 billion, including low-interest federal education loans, and the state's college grant programs.

North Carolina's National College Savings Program is a program of the State of North Carolina, established and maintained by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (Authority) as a qualified tuition program under federal tax law, and administered by College Foundation, Inc. (CFI) with administration and record keeping services provided by Upromise Investments, Inc. and Upromise Investment Advisors, LLC (collectively, Upromise). Investment options are made available through NCM Capital Management Group, LLC; J. & W. Seligman & Co. Incorporated; Wachovia Bank, N.A. through its affiliate, Evergreen Investment Management Company, LLC; the State Treasurer of North Carolina; Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife); and The Vanguard Group, Inc.

The Investment Options are not guaranteed by the State of North Carolina, the Authority, CFI, Upromise, any investment manager, or MetLife, except to the extent that MetLife has made guarantees for the Protected Stock Fund Investment Option under funding agreements with CFI, acting as agent for the Authority. Participation in the Program involves investment risk, which may include the loss of principal in the case of investments in Investment Options other than the Protected Stock Fund. Accounts are not bank deposits, are not insured by the FDIC or any governmental unit or private person. Participants assume all responsibility for federal and state tax consequences.

For more information about North Carolina's National College Savings Program contact 800-600-3453 or visit http://www.cfnc.org/savings for the Program Description and Enrollment Agreement. Before opening an Account, or contributing funds to an existing Account, you should carefully read and consider the Program Description, which includes information on investment objectives, strategies, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information. If you are not a North Carolina taxpayer, consider before investing whether your or beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investment in such state's qualified tuition program. You should consult your tax advisor.

CONTACT: Ben Kittner of College Foundation, Inc., +1-919-835-2336, or bkittner@cfi.org

Web site: http://www.cfnc.org/ http://www.cfnc.org/savings http://www.upromise.com/
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