By Joshua Grizzle
Marketing Coordinator, Georgia’s Path2College 529 Plan
July 13th, 2015

College debt and student loans are no joke. As a recent college graduate from a small town in Georgia, taking out loans to obtain a degree so I could get a job to work to pay off my loans didn’t become real until now. The “real world” is nothing like I imagined. From formal meeting etiquette to who and how to blind copy on emails, entering the work world was a learning curve. With the pressure of paying my student loans off, having the opportunity to work within the 529 industry has opened my eyes and sparked my passion for college savings.

I would not exchange my college experience for anything; however, with my six month grace period up in August, I am about to enter the world of student loan repayment. While I begin my journey of repayment, I am more eager to help the parents and students avoid student loans. Statistics are now a bit more salient to me as I learn more about the importance of savings.  Skipping that cup of coffee each week or depositing some of my birthday money into a 529 account would have certainly made the difference in paying for my higher education.

While my parents did help me pay for gas and other day-to-day expenses while in college, they didn’t have a 529 plan that was designated to pay for the tuition bill every semester (including every fee imaginable…it almost seemed like my college charged a fee to even walk on the grass).  Looking back, I wish my parents knew about 529 plans when I was younger so we could have offset the cost together with 529 funds combined with the money I made while working throughout college as a campus transit bus driver.

Now, as a college savings professional, I’m using my experiences to help educate families on the importance of savings for college. I am able to connect with families and students telling stories about my college experience that literally was just last year. Many college savings professionals joke with me about how young I am, but I think this gives me an advantage when telling my story and how college savings can really lift financial burdens off of families and students alike. To be a part of this effort in my first job right out of college transcends any student loan payment I may have because I am helping future college students avoid those loans altogether.

I am here to help families prepare for their loved ones’ biggest adventure. When I track successes and failures in a marketing campaign, I try to focus on the fact that I’m touching the lives of so many children that will one day join me in the real world – hopefully debt-free. While I may not get a direct “thank you” from that college grad for my efforts, they will thank their parents for saving for college. That “thank you” to the parent is all I really need to know that I’ve done my job.

About the Author
Joshua Grizzle is a Marketing Coordinator for Georgia’s Path2College 529 Plan.  Joshua has been with the Plan for six months and works with the plan’s integrated marketing efforts in grassroots outreach and graphic design.