By: Lynn Fitch, Mississippi State Treasurer
September 11, 2017

As grandparents, we want to spoil our grandchildren with love, as well as all the little gifts and privileges we may have withheld from our own children by the parenting standards of our day. But, what if instead of spoiling our grandchildren for an afternoon, we could give them a gift that provides them with the foundation for all their future aspirations and careers? That gift is a college savings account.

thIt is no secret: college is expensive. Tuition, fees, room and board, and even books are all rising faster than your wages are, which makes saving in this economy very hard. But, 529 programs all across this nation allow parents and grandparents alike to start saving for the future costs of educating their children. It helps you stretch your dollars to make higher education more affordable for just about any budget.

There is more than enough data to show that a college degree reaps great rewards. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, college graduates begin their careers pulling an average income of $56,665 with a Bachelor’s degree.1 Master’s degree students make an average of $73,738. In fact, federal data shows that even an associate’s degree can mean wages that are significantly higher than a high school diploma alone.

If that doesn’t convince you of the value of higher education, consider the unemployment statistics based on education levels. On average, nationally, the unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders is about half of what it is for those with only high school diplomas.

A 529 college savings plan makes that college degree more affordable and sets our grandchildren up for a better future for themselves and the families they will one day start. You can give your granddaughter a Lego set, but wouldn’t it be even better to set her on the path to one day be an engineer? You can give your grandson a favorite book, but imagine instead giving him the foundation for his very own writing career.

And, if you think your grandchild will not appreciate a gift without batteries or a charger, you might be surprised. Too many children, especially adolescents, are well aware that today’s graduates are living with more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. It is not too late to start saving even for those older children. Every dollar saved now is a dollar less they will owe later.
I encourage you to look into your own state’s 529 plans and the options they provide to make saving for college even easier and more affordable than ever. It is truly the way to give your grandchild the gift of a better future.

About the Author:
Lynn Fitch is the Treasurer of Mississippi, which offers two 529 plans: Mississippi Affordable College Savings (MACS) and Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (MPACT). MPACT was the first of the two, opening in 1997. Graduates of MPACT who have become parents themselves are now buying plans for the next generation.

[1] U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012, Table 232