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Ten Ways my Family Saved More Than $57,000 for our 529 College Savings Fund

By David Lawhorn
Plan Administrator, Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust
August 31, 2015

For many years, one of my key job responsibilities has been to share information with families across Kentucky on the importance of saving for college. My official title is “KESPT program administrator” which means that I have oversight of the state’s 529 college savings plan, the Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust (KESPT). 

My wife and I have a daughter who will be entering college soon, so other parents often ask me if our family invested in a 529 plan. I love answering that question because first of all, the answer is, “Yes!” And secondly, it gives me the opportunity to share with other families how easy saving for college can be.


By making small adjustments over the past 16 years, my family saved more than $57,400 for our daughter’s 529 college savings fund. In most cases, our family did not notice any difference in our lifestyle or monthly budget. Here is how we did it:

1.    Payroll Deduction - Our family set up payroll deduction into our daughter’s 529 account with my employer 16 years ago. Average amount contributed per pay period was $25 x 24 paydays = $600 a year x 16 years=  $9,600 


2.    Diaper Money - Once my daughter was out of diapers, we directed the diaper money to her college savings fund.  Monthly diaper budget was $40 x 12 months = $480 a year x 12 years=  $5,760 


On the Road to Higher Ed: First Time College Students Begin their Journeys

By Patricia Roberts
Managing Director, AllianceBernstein L.P. and
Chair, College Savings Plans Network Corporate Affiliates

August 24, 2015
 
Forward movement by others can inspire us in countless ways to get moving in a direction we’ve longed to go. This time of year, it seems fitting to recognize first-time college students as an inspiring example of forward movement – as they embark on pursuit of higher education.


For students for whom going to college was neither assumed nor easily envisioned — students, for instance, with significant economic challenges and/or in families where no parent had ever attended college — decisions of whether to even get on the college preparatory track, let alone pursue a degree after high school, may likely have been considerably more complex. For these students, heading off to the first day of college is all the more impressive a feat. Selecting the color and style of a “bed in a bag” ensemble for one’s very first dorm room would not have been among the toughest choices these students faced over the past few months.


The Challenge of Getting UnStuck 

 
For students from low-income families, the summer months may have included endless hours of serious re-consideration of the viability of decisions to attend college, particularly given the loss of time in the workforce and the emotions of separation. As they seek to move forward, their minds may also be filled with concerns associated with temporarily stepping away from families who very much have grown to rely upon them financially or otherwise. As they prepare to take this step forward, these students may likely be experiencing a painful tug of war between the desire to open doors through the furtherance of their education and the desire to remain home and continue to be of support to family members overwhelmed with the challenge of economic survival and the wide range of associated issues.

Training for the college savings marathon

By Lael Oldmixon 
Executive Director, UA College Savings Plan and Scholars Program
August 17, 2015

I am parent of two young children, a higher education professional, and the director of a college savings plan. Education is obviously a core value for my family and saving for college is a task we were committed to out of the gate.

My husband and I had an eager “do-right” spirit, typical of any new parents committed to saving for college. I was not working in the college savings arena at the time and our knowledge of 529s was minimal. Like many new parents, we just wanted the best for our children.

Our earnest desire to save was nearly derailed after our first interaction with a college cost calculator. We saw the bottom line and it didn’t look as easy as we had imagined. I would describe the time following the calculator incident as paralyzing. We wanted to save but we were not sure that we could ever reach our monumental goal. 

I see many parallels between the college savings journey and that of training for a marathon. The 26.2 miles it takes to complete a marathon is daunting. If you have never run a mile, 26.2 of them can feel like an impossible task. For that matter, one mile can feel unmanageable!

CSPN HOSTS ABLE FORUM

By Mary Anne Busse
Managing Director, Great Disclosure LLC

August 13, 2015

Last week, representatives from 35 states, the District of Columbia and 19 private sector firms gathered in Chicago to discuss the most effective ways to implement Achieving a Better Life Experience programs (ABLE programs). The two day Forum, hosted by Illinois State Treasurer, Michael Frerichs, was an overwhelming success!  State agencies and disability experts are working together to ensure that, when opened, ABLE programs across the country will offer easily accessible and cost-effective investment choices for participants. 


ABLE programs are authorized under the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE Act). ABLE accounts are designed to ease the financial burden for individuals with disabilities by creating tax-advantaged accounts that can be used to save for qualified disability-related expenses. 


Slugs, Rainbows, and Mud Pies

Emi and Nana


By Betsy Hagen
Associate Director for GET Operations
August 10, 2015

“Hey Nana, I want to be an engineer when I grow up!” said one of my grandchildren. “I am going to college…somewhere!”

As a grandparent, I am delighted and encouraged about the future of college degrees for my grandchildren.  All are unique and are passionate about learning.  Craft time, Lego building, and dress-up time fill their days.  They venture outside any chance they get.  They find the wonder in nature and have natural curiosities about most everything. 

My husband and I have five grandchildren and enjoy our time with the “little ones!”

A day with grandchildren is so special – they see life with such wonder and joy.  They remind you of what’s important and to take time to nurture and build trust in relationships.  

“Back to School” time already?

Sheila Salehian
Senior Deputy Treasurer, State of Nevada
August 3, 2015


As summer winds down and we are all bombarded with ‘back to school’ information, I am reminded, once again, on how fast time passes by. It’s seems like just last week my daughter graduated from 8th grade, and said ‘goodbye’ to middle school. My son is already half way through high school and I realize how grateful I am as a parent. My kids are both very fortunate to have their health, friends, and family support to pursue their dreams as they move through young adulthood. 


Raising children is quite challenging, and doing it alone brings its own set of financial and emotional setbacks and choices. As we juggle financial priorities between life’s needs and wants, I reflect back on the choice I made a few years ago, to purchase a prepaid tuition program for each of my children. Although I know they will both need more financial support (room/board/books/etc.), I know I have taken the first step in helping them pave their own way in this world by purchasing a program that can be used nationwide at institutions of higher education. 


Writing tuition checks? Check your asset mix, too

By: Daniel D. Reyes, CFA
Principal, Vanguard’s Education Savings Group
July 27, 2015


I'm in the earliest stage of college investing, saving for my son, who’s about to turn 2. Since we've got about 16 more years to go, we can afford to take on a bit more investing risk to get the potential for more reward. That means we can have a larger percentage of stocks, which provide a greater opportunity for growth, but also a greater potential for losses, based on a variety of factors.
 

On the other hand, my colleague Kim Stockton (with whom I've been studying college savers' investing behavior) has kids aged 10 and 14. She's getting closer to the tuition-checkwriting stage, so while she's still looking for growth, she's also aware that she's getting closer to the time she'll need to preserve her account balance to pay expenses.

Kim and I have been spending a lot of time diving into the investing trends of nearly 1.3 million investors across 5 529 college savings plans.* The patterns of people in that checkwriting stage (children ages 19 or older) showed the stock percentage in their portfolios—and the potential pain a drop in the market can inflict without time to recover from any rebound—wasn't always aligned with their need to preserve savings to meet tuition demands.


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