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BYH, I just moved to Greenville with my lovely wife and two precious children and a dog. I was so happy when the...

College savings account is gift that keeps on giving

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By Brian Wudkwych
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Though it may not be as flashy as a latest gaming system or the newest Barbie Doll, representatives said that investing in your child’s college savings account could be the most meaningful Christmas gift of all.

The North Carolina 529 savings account is a tax-free, low-cost plan and Takeila Hall, a regional representative for the College Foundation of North Carolina, said the holidays are the best time to get it started.

With an estimated 20.4 million students attending colleges and universities around the country — according to National Center for Education Statistics — Hall said the investment is a gift that will keep on giving.

“It’s a gift that will always be there,” Hall said. “When individuals give out toys or trinkets, that’s something that won’t be with them for a lifetime. But a college education is something that they can have that will never fade away.”

The initial investment to open a N.C. 529 account is $25, Hall said.

It gains and loses value based on the market and some employers in the state offer payroll deductions towards the account.

Hall said the 529 account can be used at any accredited college or university in the country, not just those in the state. The money accrued in the account can be used on qualified educational expenses such as tuition, fees, room and board, books and more.

Sallie Mae, in 2016, estimated that only 57 percent of parents with children younger than18 are saving for college. Additionally, it found that, on average, parents have just $16,380 saved for their child’s college education.

Interested persons can find out more about a 529 account at nc529.org, where the set-up process can be completed online.

Hall said family members interested in giving to their loved one’s account can find gift forms online to give the investment a holiday look.

December, she said, is a popular time to start saving, which has yielded an increase in accounts dedicated to doing just that.

“The reason you’re seeing that is because we’re getting closer to the end of the year and a lot of people are making New Year’s resolutions and they’re trying to figure out the things they want to do for 2018,” Hall said. “Putting money (aside) and investing in one’s future is definitely one of them.”

Contact Brian Wudkwych at bwudkwych@reflector.com or 252-329-9567 and follow @brianwudkwych on Twitter.

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