Do your readers know about National 529 College Savings Plan Day?
If so, they could win benefits and special incentives ranging from $529 to $5,529 if they open or contribute to a 529 plan on May 29. To date 27 states have joined the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) in a new national campaign to raise the visibility of these tax-advantaged education savings plans as a way to reduce the need to borrow for college.
Don’t miss the opportunity to let your readers know about the benefits of saving in a 529 by looking into one or all of the following story ideas:
How big is student loan debt?
This year, one bright spot appeared in this perennially dismal picture when billionaire investor Robert F. Smith announced at Morehouse College’s commencement that he would pay off the student loan debt of all 396 graduates at the historically all-black college. But most college students can’t count on a generous benefactor to hand them a check when they graduate.
Student loan debt now tops $1.5 trillion, which is forcing graduates to delay buying homes and starting families. College graduates leave school with a diploma in one hand—and a monthly debt burden of $383, reports the CSPN. Statewide average debt levels for the Class of 2017 range from $18,850 (Utah) to $38,500 (Connecticut), according to the Institute of College Access and Success.
How big is knowledge gap on 529s among consumers?
Two in every three Americans don’t even know about 529 plans, and only one in four know these plans pay for education. In January 2018, the new Tax Cuts and Jobs legislation expanded the use of 529s to allow families to pay for up to $10,000 of K-12 tuition. Savingforcollege.com offers a backgrounder on the top 7 benefits of 529s.
Invite a range of readers in your demographic to join a panel and ask what they know about 529s. Do they fit the national statistics? If they contribute to a 529, where did they learn about these plans? Mark Kantrowitz at savingforcollege.com and Young Boozer III, the chairman of the national campaign, are good sources to interview.
How is your state helping to promote 529 plans?
Is your state one of 27 states that has joined the national campaign to wipe out student loan debt? Call your state’s treasurer and/or a higher education official and get the details on what they do or do not offer and why. Contributions to 529 plans are free of federal taxes when withdrawn and 34 states and the District of Columbia offer tax deductions, too. (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina and Tennessee currently do not offer a state income tax deduction or tax credit for contributions to their state’s plan.)