By: Betty Lochner, Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program & CSPN Chair
January 20, 2014

With the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday upon us, I have been thinking about what it means to be a passionate leader and what an important role education plays in influencing our growth as individuals and a society. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

That powerful statement is a reminder that while education can open the door to many career and economic opportunities, higher education is designed to make students well-rounded individuals. Ideally, college graduates become lifelong learners that strive for self-improvement and take an active role in helping the world become a better place. Martin Luther King Jr. often credited his years at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University as transformative. He said his undergraduate and graduate school experiences are what gave him the confidence, knowledge and passion to take an active role in reshaping our country for generations to come.

Whenever I am in Washington D.C., I love to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial because it is such a commanding and larger than life reminder of his extraordinary life and tireless work toward peaceful resolutions to injustice. (The picture below shows me on the left dwarfed in front of his statue). He had an appetite for life and a hunger for making it better for others. As a parent, I share that same desire for a better life for my own children. The days they each walked across the stage at their college commencement were two of the proudest moments of my life because I knew that so many doors to opportunities were now open to them.

Every day my team at the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program talks with hundreds of parents who want more information about saving for college because they know how higher education can transform their child’s life. As with most things in life, the toughest part about saving for college is just getting started. My team tells parents the key is to begin saving when your children are young, so that it becomes a healthy habit. Even if your monthly contribution is a small amount, every dollar makes a difference and is one step closer to making that college diploma a reality. Just as Dr. King had a plan and vision for our country, it is important that families develop a similar road map for their children and a college education.

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).