By Jodi Golden
Executive Director, Indiana Education Savings Authority<
October 13, 2014

Couple in the Fall

As many families across the country are entering their children’s fall break from school, it’s a great time to reflect on the first few weeks of school. While you’re enjoying the leaf piles and making s’mores around the campfire, take time to ask your kids about areas in school they are enjoying, subjects they may need an extra boost in, and the goals they have set for themselves when they return.

Encouraging your children to set goals early is a powerful way to motivate them and help them envision their future becoming a reality. How is their progress thus far? Are their grades where they want them to be? Are they where you, as a parent, would like them to be? What actions can be taken to assist them in achieving that A+ or that 7:00 minute mile?

While you’re mapping out their plan for their next few weeks of school, it’s important to look beyond their present situation. Have they thought about their college or post-secondary training goals? Have you asked them what their interests are and what they might want to be someday? Start these discussions early. It not only encourages them to continue to work hard, but it also helps start the discussion of what kind of education or training their goals require – how many years it might take – how much that might cost.

It’s not a secret that college costs continue to rise each year. Fortunately, most states offer a tax-advantaged way to save via a 529 college savings plan or pre-paid tuition plan. Contributions to these plans grow tax-deferred and can be withdrawn tax free when used for qualified education expenses. Additionally, some states offer additional state tax benefits to residents.

You may not be able to save the entire cost of a post-secondary education. But you probably don’t want to borrow the entire cost either. So plan early. Saving little by little can end up doing a lot for your child’s future. Enjoy those hayrides and corn mazes with your family this fall season, and save a s’more for me!

About the Author:
Jodi Golden is director of the Indiana Education Savings Authority, which oversees the Indiana CollegeChoice 529 Savings Plans. Under her leadership, Indiana has experienced an over 900% increase in both the number of Hoosiers saving and the amount of Hoosier assets in the plans.  Indiana offers a Direct and Advisor 529 Investment Plan, as well as recently adding FDIC-insured Certificate of Deposit products. Golden currently serves on the communications committee of the College Savings Plans Network.