Most 529 Program Puts Students on the Path Toward Academic Success
By: Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt
A quality education is more important in today’s workforce than it has ever been in the past, yet the price of college and technical training has skyrocketed. This trend has left students seeking to better their job prospects with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt and few options for financial relief. According to the Project on Student Debt, 57% of Missourians who graduate from college now have some amount of student loans to pay off.
One way we are seeking to combat this problem in the State Treasurer’s Office is through our MOST 529 Savings Plan, which offers parents a tax-advantaged way to save for their child’s higher education expenses or K-12 tuition. Contributions to MOST 529 Plans are tax deductible up to $8,000 or $16,000 if married and filing jointly and any gains on investments are never taxed.
I’m proud to administer this program, which is frequently recognized as one of the top 10 in the nation because of its low fees and high performance. Just last year, MOST was recognized as a Silver Medal plan by Morningstar, a leading investment research firm. Despite the strength of the program, many Missourians don’t know about the benefits of establishing a 529 plan for their kids.
When I took office in January of last year I made it a priority to grow the MOST 529 Plan and encourage more parents to utilize this resource. That’s why our team recently launched a pilot program aimed at identifying ways to increase MOST participation in more rural communities like Macon County. Since then, we’ve met with business leaders, school groups and social organizations to establish partnerships that will help us promote college savings in the community.
We have seen tremendous growth in the MOST 529 Plan as a result of this effort and other improvements we’ve made to our outreach strategy. In the past year, the program has gained over 16,000 new accounts and surpassed $3 billion in assets under management for the first time in its history. Thousands of Missourians are signing up for accounts and getting started with their savings plans.
Opening a MOST 529 Plan for your child sends a message that you believe in their future – a message powerful enough to make a student six times more likely to attend college, according to research conducted by Washington University. This means MOST students have a better shot at getting the college degree or technical training they need to be competitive in today’s job market.
Like many parents, I want my three young children to have the best futures possible. That’s why in addition to administering the MOST program, I’m also a proud account owner. I believe it’s important to set the next generation of Missourians on the path toward academic success, and there’s no better way to do that than signing up for a MOST 529 Savings Plan.
There’s no minimum contribution to set up an account and the process takes a total of about 15 minutes on www.MissouriMOST.org. I hope every Missouri parent will consider taking this smart step so that their children can have the best possible opportunity to pursue their dreams.
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