College saving made easier

I’m happy to announce that saving for college just got a little easier. College tuition is rising, so starting a saving strategy early has become increasingly important. That’s why the state treasurer’s office has been working hard to develop a new and improved college savings plan that helps families meet the rising cost of tuition. Launched on Oct. 1, the new Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan administered by the state treasurer’s office is easier to use, has a lower minimum investment requirement and includes more investment choices. We’re sure these improvements will compel even more South Carolinians to take advantage of one of the best college savings plans in the nation.

In the new and improved savings plan, we’ve lowered administrative costs by as much as 41 percent, so we’re helping families save even more. In fact we’ve created a plan with one of the lowest administrative costs in the country and added more investment choices. Columbia Management, one of the nation’s largest investment firms, oversees the plan and has added more investment options from some of America’s most recognized investment managers. In addition, the new plan is easier to use, having lower investment minimums and more ways to access account information online and via phone, including from a smartphone.

Enrollment in the Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan has been rising, with more than 61,000 South Carolinians participating. An additional 31,000 future college students from around the country are also investing in the South Carolina plan and total assets managed by the program recently passed the $1.5 billion mark – more proof that we have an outstanding program that is recognized nationwide.

According to Joe Hurley, a national expert on college savings plans, South Carolina offers one of the best plans in the country. Hurley is the author of “The Best Way to Save for College – A Complete Guide to 529 Plans,” as well as the founder of savingforcollege.com, a website which ranks every state’s college savings program. We’re proud to report that South Carolina’s college savings plan has consistently received high ratings from savingforcollege.com.

College savings programs are named for Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. These plans are savings and investment programs specifically designed to incentivize families to save for college. College savings plans give savers the benefits of tax-deferred growth, tax-free distributions for qualified withdrawals, gift and estate tax benefits and tax deductible contributions.

Enrolling in the Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan is an investment in a quality education and your family’s future. You can take advantage of South Carolina’s first rate plan by contacting a financial adviser or visiting www.futurescholar.com.

Loftis is the S.C. state treasurer.