By: Betty Lochner
CSPN Chair & Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program
July 2, 2015

Last month we ran a special promotion through Facebook in order to bring attention to National College Savings Day (5/29) and to encourage American families to begin planning and preparing for their children’s educational futures. Unfortunately, two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans still don’t know what a 529 plan is, according to the annual 529 Plan Awareness Survey from financial services firm Edward Jones.

In a press release announcing the survey results, Steve Seifert, Principal at Edward Jones said, “Despite headlines focused on the increasingly high costs of college, we still see a significant number of Americans who aren’t aware of one of the most important long-term savings vehicles that can help minimize the impact that the cost of education has on families.”

As an industry, we have a big job ahead of us as we strive to create awareness of 529 plans and their benefits to American families. While there are many financial benefits associated with 529 plans, I think it’s important to remember all of the personal growth and motivational factors that influence our children when we invest in their future.

As parents and adult mentors, we must not forget that we are truly the champions for success of the next generation. Recently, our team in Washington State had the opportunity to work with kids at a number of local Boys & Girls Clubs about goal setting. When we asked one kindergartner to describe college he said it was “an opportunity to become your best self!” And when we asked a second grader what a path is she said, “It is just your journey through life and that it has ups, it has downs and it has lots of turns. It really is not about getting someplace, it is just about becoming a better person by never giving up and remembering the people you love and how they have helped you along the way.”

It is amazing to see how investing in a child’s future is so much more than the dollars invested, it’s really about the message the child receives in knowing that the adult leaders in their life believe in them. As we head into summer and begin preparations for the upcoming school year, I am excited to announce the following winners from our National College Savings Day Facebook promotion:

1.    Mark J, Kansas
2.    Dana S, Ohio
3.    Pamela T, Ohio
4.    Jennifer V, Ohio
5.    Edward G, Oregon
6.    Jayme F, Florida
7.    Margaret B, West Virginia
8.    Beth C, Ohio
9.    Raeanna O, Ohio
10.    Whitney H, West Virginia

Each of these individuals won a $529 cash prize that could be used to start or add to an existing college savings plan. We are thrilled to be able to support such a great cause and inspire many new families to invest in their children’s dreams and futures.

About the Author:
Betty Lochner is the Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. Under her leadership, the GET program has grown from 7,900 to over 153,000 accounts, with a fund valued at over $2.55 billion. Washington is unique in that their only 529 plan offered is a prepaid tuition plan. Lochner currently serves as Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN).