Vermont Business Magazine Investments in Vermont’s 529 college savings plan have reached another milestone, topping 22,000 accounts and $400 million in assets, according to Vermont Student Assistance Corp., which administers the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan.
“Every dollar saved is a dollar you don’t have to borrow,” said Scott Giles, president and CEO of VSAC. “Saving, even a little at a time, can make a big difference down the road.”
With the cost of education continuing to increase, the key is to start saving early and regularly, Giles said. For example, a family that begins setting aside $50 a month when their child is born can accrue over $21,000 by the time the child turns 18.
“That pretty much eliminates 70% of the average student loan debt held by Vermonters today,” Giles said.
Last year alone, Vermont families withdrew almost $32 million to pay for education expenses, Giles said.
A 529 plan is an education savings plan designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs, with tax advantages to help make saving easier. The plans are named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which created these types of savings plans in 1996. Most 529 plans are operated by state agencies.
Easy to start, the Vermont 529 plan offers an added incentive: It’s the only college savings account that qualifies for a Vermont state income tax credit on annual contributions for college or training after high school.
That’s why VSAC has joined a 27-state effort to teach families the power of saving for education and training after high school. The national campaign, dubbed “For Their Future” is led by College Savings Plan Network, part of the National Association of State Treasurers, with the goal to reduce college debt for new generations.
The alliance, which includes Washington DC, involves 46 partners, including state treasurers, financial service firms and other state officials. The public-private partnership was formed to increase awareness of 529s, the state-led college savings plans designed to help families save for higher education and lessen reliance on student loans.
VHEIP accounts can be started with as little as $25, making them affordable to most Vermonters. Or, you can give a gift of any amount to an existing account. VHEIP’s website, www.vheip.org, provides comprehensive account and program information, and includes online enrollment, e-gifting instructions and other services. Information and applications can also be obtained by calling 800-637-5860.
About VSAC – Changing Lives through Education and Training since 1965
Vermont Student Assistance Corporation is a public, nonprofit agency established by the Vermont Legislature in 1965 to help Vermonters achieve their education and training goals after high school. VSAC serves students and their families in grades 7-12, as well as adults returning to school, by providing education and career planning services, need-based grants, scholarships and education loans. VSAC has awarded more than $600 million in grants and scholarships for Vermont students, and also administers Vermont’s 529 college savings plan.