Grow your College Savings with your Tax Refund; April News

Staff Profile

Liz Bowman, Admin Specialist at the UA College Savings Plan

LizCSPphotoAs the newest staff member for UA College Savings Plan, I have learned a lot about the complex world of 529 plans and the unique services we provide to Alaska’s families. Besides communications and outreach, my favorite part of the UA College Savings Plan activities, I also have to be well versed in the processes of College Savings from start to finish.  When the phone rings in our office, I need to be prepared to help!

From setting up a plan through the new account set up (NASU) process, adding an employee to payroll deduction, or processing a distribution for incoming students, there is no area of College Savings that I can’t support. Are you lost when it comes to you or your child’s college savings plan account? Give me a call! I’ll be happy to help you with any questions or concerns that you might have.

 


Featured: Using your tax refund to grow a College Savings Plan

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Are you expecting a tax refund check this year? According to TurboTax, 75% of Americans received a refund in 2016 with the average totaling $2,800.00. If this is you, think about giving your refund a chance to go even further by depositing it into a UA College Savings Plan account. Your contributions can grow tax deferred and qualified distributions are tax-free when the time comes to start paying college tuition and fees.

So before you plan an impromptu vacation or buy front row tickets to a concert, consider giving your refund a chance to do more for your financial future by contributing it to your UA College Savings Plan account. You worked hard for your tax refund, let us help make it work for you.


Highlights

Mush for Kids (Fairbanks, AK)

Mush4kids logoEach April the UA College Savings Plan joins the Alaska Children’s Trust at Mush for Kids,
a family friendly event featuring dog mushing rides, access to community resources, and tours of the city bus, ambulances, and K9 units. This year we offered a photo booth for children and families to take fun pictures with our mascot, Dash.

Here are a few of our favorites from the event:

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Upcoming Events:

KidsDay (Anchorage, AK)

KidsDay logoThis Saturday, April 15, UA College Savings Plan will be at KidsDay in Anchorage, an event lead by Anchorage’s Promise. KidsDay celebrates youth and families and provides kids of all ages a day of laughter and fun! Stop by the UA College Savings photo booth, say hello, and take a picture with Dash!

Kids2College (Statewide)

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Kids2College (K2C) is a nationwide early college awareness program, designed for students in their last year of elementary school (5th and 6th grades). The 6-lesson curriculum helps students identify career interests, build personal learning and career plans, and understand the steps they can take in middle and high school to better prepare themselves for college and career success. The Lesson 5 College & Career Panel helps students gain a greater understanding about what it’s like to be a college student and working professional. Where available, schools are partnered with campuses who host a campus visit, complete with age-appropriate, hands-on college classes designed to help students get a feel for college life.

K2C Alaska is made possible though a partnership between the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and UA College Savings Plan. For more information about program participation, click here.

 

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How Small Amounts Add Up to Big College Savings

As children, we’re often taught that every little bit adds up, practice makes perfect, good things come to those who wait. But as adults, we frequently find ourselves forgetting those lessons and mantras in our own daily Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 10.58.42 PM.pngpractice, but continue to strive to teach them to our children.

Now, when it comes to saving for college, it’s almost natural to metaphorically find yourself looking up at the tuition mountain before your feet. Especially if you use a tool, even our own College Savings Planner. You can be left with the (completely natural) side effects of: anxiety, nausea, and fear. But let us suggest you take a deep breath and remind yourself that your goal and “end game” doesn’t have to be four years of private tuition with all room and board, fees, books, movies and convenience store trips included.

Now, lets talk about what’s realistic. And how that childhood lesson that “every little bit adds up” extends right back into planning for your own children. As you progress on your saving journey, keep the following in mind:

1. A dollar saved today can be two dollars you may not have to borrow and pay back later. You don’t have to fund 100% of what the College Savings Planning tool suggests. It’s merely a tool to give you an estimate of how much to save in order to stay on track with your goals.

2. You can save thousands, in increments as small as $25 at a time.  Here‘s how small amounts can add up over time:

$25 monthly

Saving $25 every month is equivalent to $300 annually or $3,000 every 10 years. With a hypothetical 6% growth earned annually on your investment, you’re looking at $1,100 earned over 10 years on your investment. This brings your savings total to about $4,100. That’s a little more than the current cost for a semester of resident tuition and fees at any of the University of Alaska campuses.  

$100 monthly

Saving $100 every month adds up to $1,200 annually or $12,000 over 10 years. With a 6% interest rate earned annually on your investment, you’d earn almost another $2,200.  This brings your savings total to about $16,400. That’s nearly enough for two years worth of (current) tuition at the University of Alaska.

Saving your Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (if you’re eligible for one) annually can also really add up. We encourage you to check out our Personal PFD Planner to see how saving half of your and your child’s PFD could potentially add up to over $35,000 over the years. And, if you were to win our $25,000 scholarship account, that number could be a whole lot more.

And, if we haven’t already outdone the clichés, we’ll add this one: It takes a village.  Let friends and family help. Grandparents have a vested interest in your child’s future and are often happy to add to their college savings account instead of the clutter around your house, when it comes time to give gifts.

Have a bonus or an income tax return coming? Save a portion of them for college!

Just remember, you already made a great decision by starting a college savings plan. And we are there with you, from diapers to diploma!

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UA College Savings Plan Announces $25,000 Scholarship Winner

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Eighteen-year-old Benjamin Mildon of Anchorage was selected via random drawing as the winner of a $25,000 scholarship from the UA College Savings Plan’s Scholarship College Savings Account Giveaway. Mildon, a first year student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the first recipient in the giveaway’s history to also be a UA student.

“I was astonished,” said Mildon. “My parents have been saving my PFDs for college for several years now. I never would have guessed that I would take home the $25,000.” Mildon credits both his parents and his stepfather for their support and guidance in planning for college.

UA College Savings Plan organizers took the opportunity to use a unique approach to present Mildon with his award. Mildon was invited to participate in a focus group at a campus coffee shop, and after a few questions about his college planning and how he might react if he won the drawing, he was greeted by two mascots and presented with the $25,000 check.

“We are excited the funds will benefit one of our students, and the fact that he resides on the Fairbanks campus gave us the opportunity to share the good news in a creative way,” said Lael Oldmixon, the plan’s director. The presentation aired via Facebook Live. See the Facebook Live footage here.

The UA College Savings Plan has offered the scholarship for the last seven years. All Permanent Fund Dividend applicants who choose to contribute half their dividend to a UA College Savings Plan are entered in the giveaway. The scholarship is funded by the Education Trust of Alaska, which was established in 2001 to administer the UA College Savings Plan. The promotion aims to give Alaska families an extra incentive to save their Permanent Fund Dividends for higher education expenses.  This year, 13,500 applicants entered the drawing. The UA College Savings Plan will offer the $25,000 scholarship account giveaway again next year.

Individuals enrolled in the UA College Savings Plan may use their savings account to pay for education expenses at any eligible college, university, or vocational/technical school in Alaska or the Lower 48. Families can open one of the tax-advantaged accounts with their PFD contribution, or with as little as $25 a month.

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Want a long lasting gift? Request the gift of education!

captureWhen friends or family are considering a gift for your child, remind them that nothing offers more long term benefits than the gift of education! A family member or friend can easily give your child a gift of college savings for holidays and special occasions. Also, a contribution to the UA College Savings Plan may be a gift that potentially grows with your child.

Our gift contribution slip makes the process easy. Here’s how it works.

1. Download and print the gift contribution slip.

You can find the gift contribution slip on the Forms & Documents page of our website or by clicking here. Print as many copies of it as you plan to distribute to friends and family.

2. Fill in key information on the form.

You need to fill out the first three lines: account holder name, account number and portfolio name. All of this information is available on your quarterly statements, in account access or by calling 1-800-478-0003.

3. Share the form with anyone who might want to give your child a gift.

Give the form to anyone you know who may be interested in giving your child a gift. Once they have the gift contribution slip, they can send in gifts of $25 or more directly to the account. The slip includes an acknowledgement form that they can return to let you know they have honored your child with a contribution.

4. Make it even easier and express gratitude.

Make the process as easy as possible for the gift giver by including a pre-addressed stamped envelope along with each gift slip you share. This will make it simple for giver to send the contribution to the UA College Savings Plan.  Also, consider sending a thank you card to anyone who has shared a gift of education. You can use this as a teaching opportunity and involve your child in gratitude process.

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