As your State Treasurer, my job is to responsibly manage our state’s financial resources. My personal goal is to lead all Tennesseans toward sound financial management in their own lives. I believe the key to improving the financial outlook of Tennesseans begins with getting our young people on the path to post-secondary education which helps qualify them to enter the 21st-century workplace that Tennessee needs. That path begins with saving.
By proclamation, Governor Lee has declared September as College Savings Month in Tennessee to encourage Tennessee families to save and invest for the future cost of higher education. The Tennessee General Assembly has supported the TNStars College Savings 529 Program since its inception in 2012 because of the importance of having a highly-educated workforce. It matters whether our young people are able to afford higher education.
The cost of higher education is more than just tuition. The additional costs for books, supplies and even computers is leading our young people to take on the burden of loans. The US Department of Education has deemed student loan debt to be a crisis. Currently, there is more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, making it the second highest consumer debt category, behind mortgage debt.
Saving can help free students from the burden of loans. By saving early, you can let compounding interest work for you by increasing your savings over a long period of time, rather than trying to pay off student debt with growing interest rates while living on an entry-level salary. Even saving a little can have a great impact on a child’s future!
As of June 30, 2019, only 5 children in Lake County have a dedicated TNStars account. These families have saved a combined $273,961 in the TNStars College Savings 529 program for future higher education. To help families in Lake County save even more, the state provides four-to-one matching grants through the Tennessee Investments Preparing Scholars (TIPS) program. If qualifying families save $125 per year in a TNStars account, the TIPS program would provide $500 in matching contributions annually, for up to three years.
A family of four with an annual household income of $64,000 could qualify for the TIPS matching grant program. With the average household income in Lake County at $17,752 many families would qualify for the TIPS program. To learn more and to apply, visit Treasury.tn.gov/TIPS.
Additionally, TNStars will be giving away three $529 scholarships to celebrate College Savings Month! During the month of September, Tennessee residents age 21 and older can enter the scholarship giveaway online at TNStars.com/scholarship on behalf of a child 15 or younger.
I encourage everyone in Lake County to join me in celebrating College Savings Month by taking a moment to enter the scholarship contest, learn more about TIPS, and find ways to save just a bit more for your children’s future.