Local family gets head start on college fund

Published 3:24 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Laura Tucker and family of Highland Home welcomed a bundle of joy in May 2015 and now – thanks to the Alabama State Treasurer’s office – they have also received $529 in CollegeCounts Alabama’s 529 college savings plan starter funds to help lessen potential costly collegiate costs in the future.

Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer today announced statewide winners of the CollegeCounts Alabama’s 529 Plan promotion, held in honor of 5/29 Day (May 29). A total of $16,399 in starter funds were given to parents of 31 babies – including Tucker – with each receiving $529 to open their child’s own CollegeCounts Alabama’s 529 savings account.

As part of the promotion, families of children born from May 1-31, 2015 had until July 1 to visit AL529Day.com and enter their contact information and date of their child’s birth. Winners were selected statewide at random and notified in mid-July. Birth certificates/commemorative birth announcements for each child had to be submitted in order for parents to receive funds.

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Tucker and other recipients now have the ability to grow their children’s accounts with additional contributions.

“Two hundred and fifty families from across the state entered their May-born babies’ information online,” said Boozer. “We were proud to notify selected parents that they and their child now have this amount as a starting point for college savings.”

FinAid.org reports that the cost of college doubles every nine years, with a 2014 College Savings Indicator Study finding that – although parents surveyed initially planned to cover 64 percent of their child’s college costs – most are on track to save only 28 percent of their original goal.

“When you’re raising a family, it’s important to budget your spending, and factoring in how to save for a child’s college is an important part of that budgeting process,” said Boozer. “Every little bit helps, and for that reason, we encourage parents and grandparents to make an initial college savings account investment – and then continue to contribute regularly and often for maximum benefit.”

CollegeCounts has no minimum contribution requirements, allowing families to open accounts and save a little each month. Quality investment funds – including Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, PIMCO, Dodge and Cox, MainStay and DFA – are available. Additionally, Alabama taxpayers may receive a generous state income tax deduction of up to $5,000 ($10,000 for married couples filing jointly) on contributions to CollegeCounts accounts each year.

CollegeCounts funds may be withdrawn and used at colleges, universities, trade schools and graduate schools at one-, two- and four-year schools in Alabama and across the U.S. – including vocational, technical, community, public and private colleges and universities – for qualified expenses like tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies required for enrollment.

“We hope the starter funds we provided to these 31 families spurs them to continue to invest – and help to lessen the burden of college costs for them and their children in the future,” said Boozer.

For more information or to learn how to invest in your own account, please visit CollegeCounts529.com.