Although growing up in a middle-class family of eight, attending college was always a priority. Both of my parents were college-educated, and believed in attaining higher education. They knew the employment benefits that four-year degrees possessed – especially for minorities. As the second oldest of six children, I didn’t want to burden my parents with staggering student/parent loans. Instead, I joined the U.S. Navy in order to take advantage of the Montgomery G.I. Bill.
While serving on active duty, I attended junior college. After being honorably discharged, I attended a four-year university, where I used the G.I. Bill, along with Pell Grants, and work study. I was also employed as a Peer Counselor/Writing Skills Instructor, and took out a student loan during my senior year of college. Fortunately, this small loan was forgiven, and I didn’t incur a lot of debt like countless college students. More importantly, I was determined not to have my parents carry the load of sending me through college, especially with four, additional college-bound siblings on my heels!
Today, saving for college is a snap thanks to California’s state-sponsored ScholarShare 529 Plan. I recently attended a ScholarShare/TIAA-CREF dinner, where I learned about this appealing, tax-deferred college savings program. In 2013, ScholarShare received a Silver Star, naming it one of the nine best college savings plans in the nation by Morningstar, which rates mutual funds. ScholarShare offers 19 investment portfolios based on your college savings goals. Enacted in 1996, the State-sponsored ScholarShare 529 Plan allows anyone to open an account as a gift for a child/loved one through ScholarShare’s eGifting option. From holidays and birthdays, to baby showers and bar/bat mitzvahs, college savings can add up more quickly with the help of eGifting options.
“ScholarShare 529 is an extremely flexible plan with various portfolios to choose from. It also doesn’t affect students receiving grants and scholarships,” asserts Arlene Greene, Executive Consultant of ScholarShare at the California State Treasurer Office in Sacramento. “If you put two kids through college, and you happen to have a little money left in the account, you can use it for golf lessons at the community college.” Adding, “If your first child does not go to college, then, you can change beneficiaries to your second child. Or, to anybody in your family. We love the flexibility and just really think it’s a smart way to save,” Arlene says.
For Ralph Clements of TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., San Francisco, choosing the ScholarShare program was a no-brainer. “I can’t pay for all of my daughter’s post-graduate work. But, we used the money to pay for her books,” he says. His daughter is in medical school. Ralph adds, “One way you might want to look at this is the fact that there is $1.5 trillion dollars in student loan debt. That’s public and private debt. And, this is one of those plans, where it may not pay for all of your child’s college. But, the key is at least, it’s a good start.”
Ralph’s right. Paying for books is putting a layer on the foundation. One thing resonates with me… I’ve got to get the ball rolling! I have a freshman in college, a freshman in high school and a first grader. It’s never too late to start saving! For as little as twenty-five ($25) dollars, you can set up a checking/savings account and/or automatic deposit through your employer. State employees can set up automatic deductions for fifteen ($15) dollars/month or online, http://scholarshare.com, or call 800-544-5248. Spanish-speaking assistance is also available.
Weekly Webinars, Mobile access and online assistance are available to help jumpstart ScholarShare 529 savings plan.
To get started: Call 800-544-5248