By Tim Gorrell, Executive Director, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority

November 28, 2018

After all the delicious Thanksgiving food on Thursday, Black Friday shopping, Small Business Saturday shopping, Sunday football watching, and Cyber Monday shopping, the following Tuesday is a time to reflect on for what you are most grateful and how you can extend a hand to help others.

Held this year on Nov. 27, Giving Tuesday marks the start of the charity giving season, which lasts through all the holiday celebrations. Giving Tuesday emphasizes meaningful offerings of your time, financial support, or talents for the benefit of others. It’s a day dedicated to giving back.

Many great charities are looking for a helping hand — whether of time or money — this holiday season as they reach out to those in need. Visit your favorite charities’ websites on Giving Tuesday to see how you can take care of their urgent requests. If you’d like to investigate how effectively charity uses its donations, check out websites like CharityNavigator, CharityWatch, and GuideStar before contributing to an organization.

Charity can also begin at home. Invest in a loved one by investing in their future higher education and contribute to their 529 account, or even start one for them.

A 529 plan is a college savings account with major advantages such as tax-free earnings and tax-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses to encourage families to save for their children’s future college costs. Some college savings programs also offer a state tax income deduction or credit for 529 plan contributions for residents of that state.

Funds saved in these accounts can be used across the nation at any accredited educational institution eligible to participate in federal financial student aid programs– whether for an associate, bachelor’s, graduate, or vocational degree.

You don’t have to give big to a 529 plan. Just remember that every dollar saved is one that won’t have to be borrowed in the future. You may want to make monthly contributions to the 529 account to show your continual support for your loved one’s higher education plans. To encourage family and friends to donate to loved ones’ 529 account, some states’ 529 programs offer a gift-giving platform or registry to facilitate giving. When you visit CSPN, you can review the state tax benefits for your home state’s 529 program and visit their website to learn more about gift-giving options.

Celebrate the spirit of Giving Tuesday this holiday season and contribute to a 529 account, or even start one for a loved one. For more information on your home state’s 529 college savings plan, visit CSPN’s state page to review the detailed information.

Tim Gorrell is the executive director of Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. For more than 25 years, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority has sponsored and administered CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 College Savings Program. CollegeAdvantage oversees more than 635,000 accounts and over $11.7 billion in assets. Visit or call 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734) for more information.