In today’s competitive work force, education has become more vital than ever to a successful career path, and as technology evolves, this trend will continue to be a determining factor in the success of our children. That is why it imperative that Georgia families and students begin thinking about and taking the steps to prepare for a successful future early. Both a quality early education, as well as higher education are integral pieces to this success.
According to an analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, young adults ages 18 to 24 enrolled in or completed college in the state of Georgia rose 14 percent between the years 2000 and 2008, compared to only a 10 percent increase across the entire United States. (Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Supplementary Survey, 2001 Supplementary Survey, 2002 through 2008 American Community Survey.) But we shouldn’t let this good news slow down our progress.
For today’s students, continued education will play a vital role in their future, and whether they need to earn a certification, an associates, a bachelors or higher degree to enter the field of their choice, the fact is, nearly all careers will require some sort of additional training and education. In addition to an education expanding a child’s career options, a child with a college education could earn $1 million more over a lifetime than a child without a college education, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (Education Pays, College Board, 2007).
That’s why Georgia, along with states across the country, has declared September “College Savings Month” — to get parents thinking about their children’s future and to arm them with the tools to financially prepare for this future. Georgia’s schools and teachers are working steadfastly to mentally prepare our children for the future, and we want to encourage Georgia parents to think about how they can be financially prepared to help their children. To assist parents in their planning, the State of Georgia routinely works with various partners both across the state and nationwide to be sure families have access to the knowledge and tools to help them plan for the future.
As part of this ongoing effort to promote college savings, a coloring sweepstakes is available to Georgia children enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade this month. The Path2College 529 Plan is sponsoring the coloring sweepstakes and the winner will receive $1,529 toward a Path2College 529 Plan account. Additionally, the winner’s school will receive $1,000. Parents can print the Coloring Entry Form of Hootie, the Wise Old Owl and get official rules and deadlines at www.path2college529.com. (No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.)
I, along with the schools across the state, would like to encourage Georgia parents to use fun opportunities like the coloring sweepstakes to get children thinking about their future and a continued education. It’s never too early, or too late, to get our children on their path to college — every penny saved today could be a penny that you or your child will not have to borrow tomorrow.
If you aren’t familiar with our state’s 529 college savings plan, the Path2College 529 Plan, it gives Georgia families a tax-advantaged way to save for their kids’ college tuition and other qualified expenses, such as books, fees and certain room and board costs, that can be used at virtually any college in Georgia and nationwide. With the cost of college on the rise, families are encouraged to save as much as they can, but with this plan, it only takes $25 to open an account, and $25 for each subsequent contribution. There are no sign-up, maintenance or third-party sales fees (just a low annual maintenance fee of less than 1 percent), earnings are federal income tax-deferred, and withdrawals for tuition, fees, books and certain room and board expenses are federal and Georgia income tax free*. For more information, please visit www.path2college529.com.
As young parents two decades ago, my wife and I wisely saved money for our two children’s college funds. That wise investment has helped deliver seven undergraduate and graduate degrees. It is the best investment we could have made in our future. Our only regret is that we did not have available the college savings options that today’s parents have.
For many people, financial planning can seem intimidating or even overwhelming, so decisions about saving for their children’s college education are too often put on the back burner. Don’t let this be the case with you and your family. Use this month, College Savings Month, to consider
your children’s future and help us keep Georgia’s students on the path to success and remaining competitive in today’s workforce.
Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in the Path2College 529 Plan. Please visit www.path2college529.com for a Disclosure Booklet containing this and other information. Read it carefully.
Before investing in a 529 plan, you should consider whether the state you or your Beneficiary reside in or have taxable income in has a 529 plan that offers favorable state income tax or other benefits that are only available if you invest in that state’s 529 plan.
We are required to notify you that the tax information contained herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. It was written to support the promotion of the products and services addressed in the Web site. Taxpayers should seek advice based upon their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.
*Non-qualified withdrawals are subject to income taxes and the federal additional 10 percent tax.
Account value for the Investment Options is not guaranteed and will fluctuate based upon a number of factors, including general market conditions.
Brad Bryant is the superintedent of the Georgia Department of Education.