HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - One of the biggest concerns for parents in South Carolina is paying for their child's education, which is why the South Carolina Treasurer's office created the Future scholar 5-29 College savings plan to help parents minimize potential student loan debt.
Our region is behind all others in the state when it comes to how many people are actually getting involved.
Compared to the Upstate, Lowcountry and the Midlands, the Pee Dee area has the lowest number of people involved in this plan but the, state treasurer said it mainly has to do with population size and knowledge
If you need a way to save for college, creating a Future Scholar account helps you keep more money for actual college expenses. That's because the money in your account is not taxed as it grows.
But you do need to know you can only use the money in the account for college tuition, fees, books, food plans, room and board or a laptop and its supplies.
The South Carolina Treasurer said student loan debt can haunt people, but by investing in a Future Scholar account, you can give your children the gift of a debtless future. He says to start, all you need to do is to define your savings goals. He says parents often tell him how thankful they are for the plan, especially due to the tax benefits it has given them.
Anyone can contribute to a 529 plan - grandparents, aunts, or friends of the family. There's no minimum amount to open an account and it's easy to get started.
Michael Morgan, who is saving for his children in Myrtle Beach, said he found out about the plan by word of mouth, and immediately got involved after his kids were born. He said if you're not saving start early because as time passes a little bit of money can turn into something bigger over time.
Another parent who is saving for her two grandsons in Florence said once she found out you can save but also get a deduction on your South Carolina state tax return for contributions made to this plan, she jumped on board. She said this plan put her at ease when she knows she can take money out of her savings to help her family.
"I think it's important to save for your children and for your grandchildren because the cost of college is so expensive, and keeps going up," Future Scholar Saver Susan Kornbult said. "Both my daughter and husband are professionals, my son-in-law is a doctor and my daughter is a pharmacist, but still I wanted to have a way to take some money that I had in savings and put it away for my grandchildren."
This year, Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan is celebrating not just its 15th anniversary, but also surpassing the $3 billion mark, as the plan has hit record sales this past June.
At this point the total number of accounts has increased from 9,800 to over 134,000.
"This accomplishment reveals that families are not only putting their trust in our plan, but that more parents than ever understand the importance of investing in their child's college education, Treasurer Curtis Loftis said.
If you're not saving through the Future Scholar 529 College Saving Plan, and want to enroll, visit here.