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Celebrating 20 Years of Creating Brighter Futures for our Children
Twenty years ago, we had just begun a new millennium. It gave us a fresh outlook on many things, including the way Oklahomans save for college.
As Oklahomans entered this new era, we also brought with us a new emphasis on higher education by establishing the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP). Today, the state-sponsored savings plan remains the most effective way for Oklahoma families to save for their children’s college expenses.
OCSP is full of valuable benefits when choosing how to best save for your child’s future. Since 2000, more than $1 billion has been contributed toward our loved one’s higher education, as families continue to prioritize advanced learning and skills.
OCSP is the only direct-sold 529 plan to offer an Oklahoma income tax deduction. Other advantages include a wide range of investment choices, including a conservative guaranteed option as well as enrollment year portfolios that adjust the investment mix automatically based on the year a child is expected to begin using their funds.
Unfortunately, many Oklahoma graduates end up with burdensome student loans. Behind home mortgages, student loans are now the second highest consumer debt. These loans not only stay with our children for a long time – the average repayment period is 20 years – but it also delays them from being able to save money to start a business, buy a house or save for their future.1
September is College Savings Month, a great time to pause and think about the costs and benefits of saving for college. As families prepare for the future, it’s important to prioritize saving for college, but Oklahoma employers can also be involved in encouraging their employees to save as much as possible to help their children reach their higher education goals.
OCSP at Work is a free financial wellness benefit available to any Oklahoma business or non-profit. Through OCSP, employers can offer college savings education, the option for employees to make easy direct-deposit contributions, and virtual learning opportunities. This is a contract-free service to Oklahoma employers, which requires minimal administrative support.
Eighty percent of employees say education benefit offerings make them more likely to recommend their employer to others, according to Bright Horizons.2 OCSP at Work can help Oklahoma employers prioritize education and help create a more skilled Oklahoma workforce.
Though this year has been anything but ordinary, OCSP’s goals remain unchanged—encourage parents to save for their child’s education as soon and as often as possible. During College Savings Month this September, I encourage all Oklahoma families to open an account. As an added bonus, OCSP is now offering a $25 match if you open a new account and contribute for three straight months.3 It’s a win-win for Oklahoma families and a foundation for a better future for our children.
For more information or to open an account, visit https://www.ok4saving.org/.
1Hess, Abigail (2019, May 23). College grads expect to pay off student debt in 6 years—this is how long it will actually take. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/23/cengage-how-long-it-takes-college-grads-to-pay-off-student-debt.html
2Mayer, Kathryn. (2019, Dec. 13). Employers zero in on education benefits. Retrieved from https://hrexecutive.com/employers-zero-in-on-education-benefits/
3When you open a new Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP) with a $25 contribution (and sign up for and maintain recurring contributions or payroll direct deposit of $25 or more per month for a minimum of 3 months) between July 1, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. and December 31, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. (CT), OCSP will match $25 on the schedule detailed in the official Terms and Conditions. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsored by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc.
To learn more about the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan, its investment objectives, tax benefits, risks and costs, please see the Disclosure Booklet at ok4saving.org. Read it carefully. Investments in the Plan are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is the risk of investment loss. Consult your legal or tax professional for tax advice, including the impact of the new federal tax changes. If the funds aren’t used for qualified higher education expenses, a 10% penalty tax on earnings (as well as federal and state income taxes) may apply.
TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., Program Manager. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC, distributor and underwriter for the Oklahoma College Savings Plan.