Russellville, Ala. (June 23, 2015) – Jamie Duboise of Russellville thought she would try her luck in 2013, entering her oldest son, Trace, age 8, into a giveaway on behalf of CollegeCounts Alabama’s 529 plan. As luck would have it, he was named a winner. Soon after, she opened an account for him – depositing the funds to begin saving for future college costs.
“Trace was very excited to learn he had won $529, but he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t have the money right then and there,” said Duboise. “We explain consistently to him when he gets money that putting it away will benefit his future college career, so he’s starting to understand.”
According to The College Board – Trends in College Pricing report, annual tuition, fees and room & board at a public two-year, in-state institution has increased to an average of $11,050. For those same expenses at a public four-year, in-state institution, that increase was to an average of $18,940 for a year. These are averages from across the country and illustrate the significant costs involved with a two- or four-year degree – and the importance of starting to save early.
And to parents like Duboise, it is important to remember that – no matter what amount is invested – every dollar saved today means less in student loans tomorrow.
“My husband and I felt it was important to start the savings process early, as it is traditionally harder to put back money as kids get older,” says Duboise. “Given we have three children – all of which will likely be in college at the same time – CollegeCounts 529 provides us with an easy way to invest. Our hope is that saving early will allow us to more efficiently manage expenses in the future.”
CollegeCounts has no minimum contribution requirements to open an account or to keep adding to an existing account, allowing families to open accounts and save a little each month through quality investment funds, including Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, PIMCO, Dodge and Cox, MainStay, and DFA.
“It’s an easy, 10-minute setup process and is simple to manage through direct deposits and automatic payroll deductions,” says Duboise. “It is also a safe investment option for us and our money, which really drew us to the plan.”
In addition to the ease of starting an account, CollegeCounts is also beneficial for account holders. Under the 529 Section of the tax code, special tax benefits are provided to families saving for future college expenses. Alabama taxpayers may receive a generous state income tax deduction of up to $5,000 ($10,000 for married couples filing jointly) on contributions to CollegeCounts each year.
“Alabama’s CollegeCounts 529 Fund was designed to help families save for college while at the same time benefit from the program’s various tax advantages and benefits,” said Young Boozer, Alabama State Treasurer. “The first step for any family is to determine how much – no matter how small or large – the initial investment will be. From that point forward, we encourage contributing frequently to build additional funds for future college expenses.”
Funds may be withdrawn and used at colleges, universities, trade schools and graduate schools at one-, two- and four-year schools in Alabama and across the U.S. – including vocational, technical, community, public and private colleges and universities – for qualified expenses like tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies required for enrollment.
“When their grandmother gives the kids $50 on various occasions like birthdays and holidays, sure it’s frustrating to them that they can’t keep or spend that money. But one day, they will see where all of it went and what for,” says Duboise.
To learn more about the 529 program and how to open an account, please visit CollegeCounts529.com.