Hundreds of children and their parents came to the Marbles Kids Museum on Sunday afternoon for a fun-filled educational outing.
The kids had a blast. Still, the day held promise for parents who considered options on how to best save for their youngsters’ college tuition.
Shera Hube and others with the College Foundation of North Carolina were there to encourage parents and other adults to consider the state’s college saving program, the NC 529 Plan.
“We encourage families to start early,” Hube said. “Most parents are worried about the cost of college. It’s best to save as much as you can and put money away whenever you can.”
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The NC 529 Plan grew out of a plan authorized by the federal government in the late 1990s; the “529” refers to a section of the IRS code. In 1998, the General Assembly created the N.C. National College Savings Program, which started in 2001 and is administered by the College Foundation of North Carolina.
The program allows parents, grandparents and even family friends to save money earmarked for college tax free. You can open an account with as little as $25.
The NC 529 Plan’s representatives visit YMCAs, school groups, churches and libraries to make people aware of the college savings program. Sunday marked the first time the non-profit has partnered with Marbles, and nearly 2,500 parents signed up.
“It’s a perfect alignment when you think about families coming here with their children and the purpose of NC 529,” said Maureen Bowman, the museum’s director of programs. “Part of our purpose is to get [children] ready for school. This is a perfect collaboration for us.”
The quick series of workshops started with a short video that explained the program and its benefits. Takeila Hall with College Foundation North Carolina said the program is open to anyone 18 or older and that participants can deposit money into the account individually or through their employers. The money goes into investment accounts, and participants can choose from conservative, moderate or aggressive investments.
Takeila Hall’s 5-year-old son, Christian Hall, had fashioned a helmet out of the bright-colored sticks and showed it to his dad, Charleston Hall, who accompanied his wife on Sunday. Charleston Hall, a 36-year-old accountant, said he and his wife began participating in the program soon after Christian’s older brother was born.
“We like to be proactive with our kids education and give them a head start,” Hall said. “I paid my own college tuition, and I realized it was a struggle at the time. When you plan, you have better success with your children’s future.”
The NC 529 College Savings Plan
For information, go to the website at NC529.org, or CFNC.org. Enrollment kits can also be obtained by calling 800-600-3453 or by email to savings@CFNC.org