More families should take advantage of 529 plan value

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I was pleased to see the Post-Gazette’s story about the growing popularity of 529 plans (“529 College Savings Plans Are Proving to Be Popular,” Jan. 29). For more than 20 years, the Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program has played a critical role in helping Pennsylvania families combat the rising cost of higher education.

We now have a record number of families saving at record levels, with more than 186,000 accounts and more than $3.1 billion in assets. Since the program’s inception, more than 71,000 students have used their accounts to pay for nearly $2 billion in higher education expenses. Even more impressive, these families collectively achieved over 25 percent growth on their savings.

I have worked hard as state treasurer to make the PA 529 program one of the best of its kind in the nation. But more families need to understand the importance of saving and of starting now. According to a recent report from the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success, 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s 2012 college graduates completed school with student loan debt averaging $31,675, the third-highest debt amount among graduates in any state that year!

We at the Pennsylvania Treasury want to emphasize the importance of saving for college. We know families look ahead to future tuition bills with anxiety. Whether it is a little or a lot, I encourage your readers to save something. It will help make college more affordable and accessible, so more children can achieve their dreams of higher education.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

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