As Valentine’s Day approaches each year, I am reminded of Thomas Aquinas’ observation, “the things we love tell us what we are.”
Over the past few weeks, Americans were presented with an unexpected opportunity to swiftly and collectively demonstrate the love they have for the children in their lives, the value they place on higher education, and the commitment they have to an easy-to-use financial vehicle that helps them plan ahead for their loved ones’ post-secondary education expenses.
Feeling the love
It was parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, current and future students along with so many other concerned citizens who, without hesitation, joined a diverse group of lawmakers, state treasurers and other public officials in an impromptu coast-to-coast chorus to help preserve the tax benefits of 529 college savings plans. It was an unusual circumstance for so many seemingly diverse individuals to be singing in unison off of the very same page. One could almost feel the warmth that was evoked by their commonality of interest, see the party lines graciously fade and hear the collective sigh of relief from families across the nation as they realized their voices had indeed been heard and their academic hopes for those they love, preserved.
Seeing the silver lining
What felt initially like an unexpected and potentially harmful storm cloud turned out to be a fast moving one … with quite a silver lining. The experiences of the last few weeks gave us several valuable “gifts”:
• We received a welcomed reminder that across party lines and state lines, there is a strong commitment to continue to encourage families to plan ahead for higher education with the help of 529 plans;
• We witnessed the collective power of families across the nation as they proudly reaffirmed their dedication to the future of their children by speaking out in support of retention of 529 plan benefits; and
• As we observed the increased attention regarding the tax-advantages of 529 plans and the widespread support for them, we realized what a priceless opportunity had been unexpectedly created for us to raise awareness among those who may otherwise have been unfamiliar with the plans and their usefulness.
Hearing the Continued Message
CSPN is helping maintain this unanticipated attention by doing its share to raise awareness even further about the importance of 529 plans and the impact they can have on helping families avoid high student loan debt.
Through its timely and creative public service announcement, now airing on hundreds of radio stations across the country (at appropriately 5:29 a.m. and p.m.), CSPN is not only educating families about what 529s are, but also keeping the “value of planning ahead” and “ease of use” message top of mind as the clock strikes 5:29 each day.
If it wasn’t apparent previously, it now is: Saving for college is not just a financial investment, it is an emotional investment, in those we love and in the futures we wish for them.
About the Author:
Patricia Roberts is a Managing Director at AllianceBernstein where her sole focus is on Rhode Island’s CollegeBoundfund, one of the nation’s largest advisor-sold college savings program with over $7 billion in assets under management. She has been involved in nearly every aspect of the college savings arena for more than 15 years as an attorney, product manager, state relationship manager, passionate advocate, public speaker and as a mom, saving for her son Benjamin’s post-secondary education. She is chair of the College Savings Plans Network Corporate Affiliates and also plays an active role on other committees including Media Relations, Federal Initiatives, Multi-Cultural Outreach and Legal and Regulatory Affairs.