Paying for college takes some planning. In Louisiana, the total cost of attendance for an in-state student for the 2019-2020 school year ranged upwards of $20,000 for the community and technical college system and into $30,000 for some public four-year institutions. With the cost of a college education continually rising, it is no longer practical for parents to solely depend on family income to cover post-secondary expenses.
Next week, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) will take part in the national 529 Day celebration, to educate parents and families across the state about Louisiana’s Student Tuition Assistance & Revenue Trust (START) Saving Program and why it’s important to save now for college. The office has planned a social media scavenger hunt related to college and saving, social media polls, and more. Participants who use
will be entered for a chance to win the grand prize drawing on June 1, 2020, which is a $529 donation into their START account.
“Every little bit helps,” said James deGraauw, a Baton Rouge parent of two boys. He and his wife opened 529 accounts for both of their sons when they were younger. Their oldest, Michael, currently attends Southeastern Louisiana University (SELU).
“We put in $25 dollars a month and by the time Michael went to college he had $12,000. He also receives TOPS and has an honors scholarship from Southeastern which covers fees, so his 529 money basically covered other costs for his first two years of college.” He added, they do have some money left over to help with costs for his remaining years.
His youngest son, Matthew, will attend the University of New Orleans (UNO) as a freshman this fall. UNO has offered Matthew an honors scholarship, and he is on track to be eligible for TOPS. They plan to use the money in his 529 account to pay for what those scholarships do not cover.
Educational Savings Accounts are recognized as Qualified Tuition Programs under section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Money saved in a START account can be used to pay for Qualified Educational Expenses at any approved accredited college, university, or proprietary school (in-or out-of-state) such as: tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies.
“I enrolled in the START program because I knew it would help with the expense of books and other necessities, with the cost to attend [a college or university] being so much higher these days,” said Florence Holmes, a retired grandmother from Alexandria.
Holmes opened accounts in 2013 for each of her grandchildren. One will begin using money from his account this fall when he attends Louisiana State University.
The START Savings Plan allows families to choose from 10 investment options. The state of Louisiana also uses Earnings Enhancements, to match up to 14 percent of what is contributed to each account (based on the Account Owner’s federal adjusted gross income). Deposits made to an account may be excluded from taxable income on the Louisiana tax return (up to $2,400 per year, per beneficiary for single Account Owners and $4,800 for owners filing a joint return).
Louisiana also has the START K12 saving plan, which allows families to save for tuition expenses related to attendance at any Louisiana school that provides kindergarten through twelfth grade instruction.
Funds from a START Saving Plan cannot be rolled over into a START K12 account. However, if money remains in a START K12 account, after a child graduates from high school, it can be rolled into a START Saving Plan.
To read more about the advantages of Louisiana’s START Program, click
To enroll your child in a START account, click
To read more about Louisiana’s START K12 Program, click