Sheila Salehian
Senior Deputy Treasurer, State of Nevada
August 3, 2015

As summer winds down and we are all bombarded with ‘back to school’ information, I am reminded, once again, on how fast time passes by. It’s seems like just last week my daughter graduated from 8th grade, and said ‘goodbye’ to middle school. My son is already half way through high school and I realize how grateful I am as a parent. My kids are both very fortunate to have their health, friends, and family support to pursue their dreams as they move through young adulthood.

Raising children is quite challenging, and doing it alone brings its own set of financial and emotional setbacks and choices. As we juggle financial priorities between life’s needs and wants, I reflect back on the choice I made a few years ago, to purchase a prepaid tuition program for each of my children. Although I know they will both need more financial support (room/board/books/etc.), I know I have taken the first step in helping them pave their own way in this world by purchasing a program that can be used nationwide at institutions of higher education.

Being born and raised in Las Vegas, neither of my children plan to attend college in this State. As a parent, where they go is not as important as the plan to help them get to their dream school. I am so pleased that they will have choices based on their own academic record, and through the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program, which will pay tuition at Nevada rates. After all, as parents, we all want our children to have every opportunity in life to be productive, independent, happy and healthy members of society. The only real way I’ve found to mentor my children and to help them pave their own way to achieve these goals, has been to foster a sense of personal responsibility in each of them. To instill the idea that ‘anything is possible with education, desire, and personal commitment’, has been a cornerstone lesson in my home.

Although my son is unsure of what he wants to do, he knows his path includes going to college on the West Coast. He has started to supplement his Prepaid Tuition Program with earnings from his summer internship, into a traditional 529 Savings Plan. He is also focused on grades, in hopes of receiving a merit scholarship. We have spent many hours reviewing the financial side of funding an undergraduate degree, and know it is a collaborative process between parents and children. Although my son would much rather spend his entire internship salary on Apple products, he has successfully saved some money for college.

Funding an entire undergraduate degree is a bit like putting together a puzzle. You start with the outside, such as, a prepaid tuition program, and work your way inside, until all the gaps are filled. So, as your family gets ready to ‘go back to school’ this fall, I challenge you to think about and start planning, a college savings strategy with your own kids. Check out the various 529 College Savings Plans your state offers. Consider the peace of mind that comes with pre-purchasing their college tuition. Although I don’t claim to have everything saved that I will need to support them, I’ve shown them that I am doing my part to help secure their future. Are you ready?

About the Author

Sheila Salehian is a Senior Deputy Treasurer for the Nevada State Treasurer’s Office and has oversight of the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program. The program has assets under management of over $200 million.  The State of Nevada Treasurer’s Office also offers four other 529 savings plan choices for families.  Sheila Salehian currently serves as Secretary to the College Savings Board of Nevada.