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Bright Futures Start with Being a Champion for Others’ Success

By: Betty Lochner
CSPN Chair & Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program
July 2, 2015

Last month we ran a special promotion through Facebook in order to bring attention to National College Savings Day (5/29) and to encourage American families to begin planning and preparing for their children’s educational futures. Unfortunately, two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans still don't know what a 529 plan is, according to the annual 529 Plan Awareness Survey from financial services firm Edward Jones. 

In a press release announcing the survey results, Steve Seifert, Principal at Edward Jones said, "Despite headlines focused on the increasingly high costs of college, we still see a significant number of Americans who aren't aware of one of the most important long-term savings vehicles that can help minimize the impact that the cost of education has on families.”

As an industry, we have a big job ahead of us as we strive to create awareness of 529 plans and their benefits to American families. While there are many financial benefits associated with 529 plans, I think it’s important to remember all of the personal growth and motivational factors that influence our children when we invest in their future.

“Water Balloons and Summer Break”

By Rachel Biar
Assistant State Treasurer for the Nebraska 529 College Savings Program
June 29, 2015

Growing up, I couldn’t wait for summer break. Warmer temperatures, more time outdoors, water fights, swimming, family vacations, and time off from school. And while the days of my youth have long past, I still look forward to summer. Letting the deep, dark soil drift through my hands as I plant my vegetable garden and flower beds, long weekend getaways, family picnics, and, yes, even the occasional water fight with my niece and nephews. Summer is an opportunity for me to re-energize myself and reconnect with extended family.

As you’re making memories with your families, summer is an ideal time to think about college savings. The children who will be going back to school in a few short weeks may be only a few short years away from college. Are you ready for their college expenses? It’s never too early, nor too late, to start planning for your child’s future, and getting started is easier than you might think. Each 529 plan has many resources available to aid you in setting up an account, or two.

The Trend is your Friend: Paying for College

By Paul Curley, CFA
Director of College Savings Research, Strategic Insight
June 22, 2015

As a society, we seem to focus quite a bit on trends.  While not all trends are great, there are a few that can help your children excel in some pretty incredible ways.

First, the world is becoming more digital. Just look around you, most people have multiple devices. While some have multiple devices to divide work and personal emails, others have wearable devices for more technical purposes such as keeping pace during a marathon. Is it that these devices are so ingrained in our culture that we do not even notice them, or is it that we have become more detached than ever before? For example, the late spring season marks the beginning for many things including college graduation and baseball. In Boston where I grew up, the trains this time of year would be flooded with people going to a Red Sox game and the air would be electric from the overall excitement for the game, but now interaction through technology devices is typically higher than face-to-face communication. Further, the expansion of robo advisors shows a push by technology into the financial service industry and replaces what has typically been completed by meeting in person with a financial planner. 

Summer Break

By: Hon. Michael L. Fitzgerald
State Treasurer, State of Iowa
June 15, 2015

Just because your kids are on summer break doesn’t mean their college savings has to be as well. For many, summers are filled with carpooling to baseball games, backyard BBQs and trips to the pool.  Let your kids enjoy their time away from the classroom while continuing to bolster their college savings

•    If you haven’t done so already, consider using an automatic investment plan (AIP). Saving with AIP allows you to set up automatic contributions on a regular basis by connecting your financial institution account to your 529 plan. This allows you to make saving a part of your routine without taking time out of your day each month. If you already use AIP, consider increasing the amount you contribute.  Even a few extra dollars a month could mean big savings when it comes time to write that first college check. You and your kids may be taking a break this summer, but your account will not! 

It’s Graduation Season Again

By Paul Paeglis
Executive Director, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority/CollegeAdvantage 529

June 8, 2015

Graduation season is the time of year when families and friends come together to celebrate accomplishments of completion along the educational path. It means one has put in the necessary work to move on to the next phase of their life. Graduation comes in various forms of celebration—from those darling preschool graduation ceremonies as little ones head to elementary school, the middle school “clap outs” as parents recognize students on their way to high school and the big events of graduating from high school , college and beyond in lifelong learning pursuits.

The graduation ceremony is like a rite of passage that schools and families honor with tradition.  There are so many customs that help make a graduation ceremony special; from the cap and gown, to the colors associated with colleges and degrees, academic achievements and awards, the infamous “Pomp and Circumstance,” the guest speaker and let’s not forget about the traditional tassel turn and the final tossing of the graduation hats! 

Cousin’s Legacy Lives on Through Investments in Children’s Futures

By Ryan Betz
Associate Director of Marketing & Communications with Washington State’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program 

Fifteen years ago my cousin Michael passed away after a tragic airline accident. He was only 30 years old and had a bright future ahead of him. Over the years following my cousin’s death, my aunt and uncle searched for ways to honor Michael’s life. One of the ways they chose to recognize Michael’s contributions to the world was by establishing a 529 college savings account for both my daughter and my son. My aunt and uncle believed education was the one way Michael’s legacy could be carried on by giving my children the opportunity to follow their dreams and aspirations through a college education.

My aunt and uncle’s choice to celebrate Michael’s life through a 529 plan contribution was not based on maximizing investment returns in order to make a lot of money; it was a much deeper and meaningful decision. They simply wanted to ensure all the amazing experiences that were afforded to Michael because of his education were passed along to the next generation of our family. In fact, I remember Michael’s college graduation pretty vividly since it was the first I had ever attended. I recall thinking at the time, how cool it was that he achieved such a high level of education. That memory was left engraved in my mind and was something I circled back to when I needed a little motivation with my own studies.

It's 5/29, Are you Saving for College?

Patricia Roberts
Managing Director, AllianceBernstein L.P. & Chair, College Savings Plans Network Corporate Affiliates Committee
May 26, 2015 

Across the country as the clock strikes 5:29 a.m. and p.m. each day, if you're listening to the radio, you may hear a Public Service Announcement that begins by posing a timely and important question: "It's 5:29, are you saving for college?" In an informative and encouraging manner, the PSA, playing on hundreds of stations across the country, seeks to educate listeners about what 529 college savings plans are and how these plans can play a valuable role in helping families prepare for higher education expenses.

With another creative "529" connection quickly approaching, (Friday, May 29 - National 529 College Savings Day), awareness will surely be raised in countless additional ways across our great nation. The College Savings Plans Network (CSPN), encourages states to utilize 5/29 and the week leading up to it as an appropriate time to conduct focused 529 plan outreach.

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