By Eva Giles, College Savings Program Manager, Finance Authority of Maine

May 14, 2024

Graduation season is a time for celebrating the accomplishments of the students in our lives. What do you gift a graduate to acknowledge these accomplishments and inspire them in the next steps of their journey? To give a gift with a lasting impact, look towards KSAs—knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Graduates will be entering a brand-new world. Whether it is moving to a college campus to begin a 4-year program, starting a part-time course load while balancing work and school, or embarking on a certificate or apprenticeship program focused on developing technical skills, your graduate needs to understand the process, their role, and their responsibilities in this new setting. Do they need to visit the Financial Aid Office, complete student loan counseling materials, or seek out a work-study job? With your help, your student will know the actions they need to complete, important deadlines, and who to contact. Your gift of knowledge while building their own expertise will reduce anxiety and make their tasks manageable.

Everyone needs help with skills for “adulting.” Introductions and handshakes are important aspects of first impressions that many students don’t practice, and they could use your guidance to perfect them. The ability to create a monthly budget and strategies to commit to the plan is another helpful skill for your graduate to develop as they enter adulthood. Your gift of skill sharing can set the stage for their success.

Students need to develop the ability to communicate effectively and to advocate for themselves. Is your student able to talk and write about their strengths and interests? Can they effectively complete a scholarship application? Can they express why an employer may want to hire them for a summer job? Can they navigate a new school infrastructure to get their questions answered? Your help can make a tremendous difference. Edit a scholarship essay or a resume. Provide feedback during a practice interview. Review the college website. Help them become familiar with resources that are available on-campus as well as in the community. Your gifts of wisdom and experience can be just the support they need.

Everyone wants to feel like they have what it takes to succeed. When starting a new challenge, it is helpful for your student to have you reinforce that belief in them. Words of encouragement, recognition of prior achievements, and tangible rewards, such as a contribution to a 529 account, are gifts that demonstrate confidence in your student and encourage confidence in themselves. Sharing your knowledge, skills, and abilities toward building a prepared and resilient individual is one of the best ways to convey – Way to Go, Future Graduate- You got this!

For resources and tools that may help your future graduate, please visit

About the author:

Eva Giles is the College Savings Program Manager for the Finance Authority of Maine, administrator of NextGen 529®. NextGen 529 is Maine’s section 529 plan which many families use to save for higher education. Outside of work, Eva and her family spend time hiking and enjoying the natural beauty Maine has to offer.