September: Perfect time to save for college

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WINOOSKI — September is National College Savings Month, an ideal time to open or add to a Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan account to get the maximum in savings and tax benefits. Plus, this September Vermont families get a chance at some prizes as they create education opportunities for their children or loved ones.

To remind families about the importance of saving for college, Vermont Student Assistance Corp., which oversees the Vermont 529 college savings plan, is celebrating during the entire month by giving away five $100 college savings accounts and prize packages, including ski passes, tickets to college sports events at the University of Vermont and Vermont State Colleges, tickets to the Vermont Lake Monsters and passes to the Vermont State Parks and ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.

Visit VSAC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vermontstudentassistancecorporation to learn more or enter the drawing at vheip.org.

VHEIP accounts can be started with as little as $25, making them affordable to most Vermonters and the state provides a tax credit of 10 percent of the first $2,500 contributed per beneficiary, per year ($5,000 contributed per beneficiary, per year, for spouses filing jointly).

That's a tax credit of up to $250 per beneficiary account per year ($500 per beneficiary per year for joint filers) for Vermont taxpayers.

Saving now can create opportunities that will last a lifetime. Research shows that children from families who save even as little as $500 are three times more likely to attend and complete college.

"Vermonters need to continue their education after high school to be qualified for jobs in Vermont's new economy," said Scott Giles, president and CEO of VSAC. "By starting savings plans early, contributing regularly, and making smart investment choices, families can make their savings work for them while their children grow."

In Vermont, the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan has over 20,000 accounts worth over $320 million - all of which goes to pay for training and education after high school.

Since 1999, more than 5,500 students have used over $133 million from the plan to pay their education expenses.

Winning entries submitted online at www.vheip.org will be randomly selected by VSAC.

Winners will receive $100 in a VHEIP college savings account along with two tickets to one of the following ski areas: Jay Peak, Smugglers Notch, Sugarbush, Killington or Stratton.

Winning entries will also receive tickets to sporting events at one of the Vermont State Colleges, University of Vermont, Vermont Lake Monsters, as well as passes to the Vermont State Parks and ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.

Full details are available at www.vheip.org.

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