Baton Rouge - Louisiana families will soon have a chance to win $529 toward their child’s college education.
Next month, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) which oversees Louisiana’s 529 saving plans known as Student Tuition Assistance & Revenue Trust (START and START K12), will celebrate 529 Day with a series of social media activities throughout the month. Nationally, May 29 (5/29) is recognized as 529 College Savings Plan Day which refers to special tax-advantaged accounts to help families save for higher education expenses based on section 529 of the tax code.
“Many times, parents think they can only use the money in a START account for tuition and books, but the funds can also be used to cover room and board or purchasing a laptop,” said Terri Underwood, director of START Programs. “So many account owners have expressed to me the blessing that their START accounts have been to them and their family to help cover the high cost of a quality education.”
To increase awareness of Louisiana’s START saving plans, LOSFA has planned a social media campaign that will focus on saving for college and the importance of a college education (community college, four-year degree, credential, or trade). Some parents say investing early makes college accessibility more attainable.
“My husband and I did not know about START until I was pregnant with my third child,” said Brittani Williams, mom to three elementary-aged boys. “Now, I tell everybody with children about it. I don’t want affordability to be a determining factor when it’s time for my sons to choose a college, so it was important to me to start saving now.”
As college costs continue to rise, creating a 529 account allows parents, grandparents, or other family members a chance to save now and limit any potential borrowing down the road.
“Saving early for college ensures students can plan for a bright future full of unlimited opportunities,” said Commissioner of Higher Education and Chair of the Louisiana Trust Authority (LATTA) Kim Hunter Reed. “The state’s 529 START saving plan helps families prioritize talent development by making it more affordable to achieve a credential of value leading to a secure career and a more prosperous future.”
The more parents engage with LOSFA’s 529 Day campaign, the more chances they have to win the $529 grand prize. An additional five people will also win a $29 deposit into a START account of their choice.
To see a list of the activities each week in May, click here.
The START saving 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).
“A college education isn’t cheap. Making small, monthly contributions to a 529 plan is a smart way to invest in your child’s future. Whether your child wants to be an accountant or a welder, START can make their dreams an affordable reality,” said Louisiana State Treasurer, John M. Schroder.
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 529 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 529 Saving Plan.
To read more about the advantages of Louisiana’s START Program, click here.
To enroll your child in a START account, click here.
To read more about Louisiana’s START K12 Program, click here.