News & Press Releases
Treasurer Randy McDaniel announces winners of Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan Making a Difference Essay Contest
OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 30, 2019) — Oklahoma State Treasurer Randy McDaniel today announced the five winners of the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP) Making a Difference Essay Contest. Each winner received a $1,529 contribution to his or her college savings account.
“Each winner has worked diligently to create a solid plan to fund their higher education. We hope winning the contest inspires them to continue working hard and planning for the future,” said McDaniel, board chair for OCSP.
The winners are Abigail Tanner, Tulsa; Thomas Williams, Bixby; Denise Lawrence, Ponca City; Jenny Cronlund, Oklahoma City; and Annah Baykal, Edmond.
State officials selected the winners from a pool of more than 200 entries. One winner was selected from each of Oklahoma’s five congressional districts. Essay entries were accepted from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30, 2018.
Tanner is active in her school’s band and the Tulsa Youth Symphony. Her essay described how she will use her OCSP account to study music after high school.
“For 17 years, my parents have been saving for my future using this plan,” writes Tanner. “Without the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan, I would not have the financial help I need to attend college. When I am able to go forward and create a generation of musicians that cherish music as much as I do, I know that I will have my parents to thank for having the foresight to take advantage of a program that lets young people like me get what they need to make a positive change in the world.”
Williams is in first grade at Bixby Elementary School. With writing help from his grandfather Kenyon, Thomas writes that higher education is expected within his family.
“Grandpa tells me I am going to school to get tools for my toolbox,” writes Williams. “I do not know what I want to be when I grow up, but my mom, dad, grandma and grandpa have plans and goals for me. My dad is an environmental engineer having graduated from OU and my mom is a nurse practitioner having graduated from the University of Arkansas, so my higher education is stressed and expected.”
Lawrence’s husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in 2016. She writes that friends and family started an OCSP account for their daughter, who was 15 at the time of the accident.
“Losing my spouse's income suddenly at a somewhat young age could have prevented my daughter from attending the college she wanted but because of the money contributed and the earnings it has created, this will enable her to become either an elementary education teacher or an early childhood education teacher,” writes Lawrence.
Cronlund and her husband have three boys under the age of 8. They have hopes that all three will earn a college degree.
“I know our boys will all choose decidedly different paths, but if a degree helps fulfill their lives, I want them to be able to choose how they will contribute to the world,” writes Cronlund. “Whatever my boys choose to do, I want to ensure they can live their life without the weight of university debt slowing them down. OCSP provides them that freedom and opportunity.”
Baykal has already earned her undergraduate degree and is now in medical school. She writes that funds from her OCSP account will allow her to graduate with less debt than many colleagues, giving her freedom to follow her passion in the medical field and not be persuaded to enter into a specialty based on potential earnings.
“Because of the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan, I have had assistance paying tuition and therefore, feel the freedom to pursue the career in medicine that I feel most led. I believe preventative medicine is vital, and primary care physicians have the crucial role in recognizing and avoiding situations in which a disease process has progressed to the point of no return.
McDaniel said each winner has a compelling and unique story and he hopes it motivates other Oklahoma families to save as early as possible for college.
“The price for college tuition and fees is rising at an alarming rate,” said McDaniel. “As this trend of the cost of higher education continues, the conversation around saving for college early becomes more crucial. I applaud our five winners for their dedication and encourage other families to begin saving as well.”
For more information about opening an OCSP account, go to www.ok4saving.org. Funding for OCSP prizes comes from the marketing budget of the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan; no state funds are used.
About the OCSP
Introduced in April 2000, the Oklahoma 529 College Saving Plan (OCSP) is Oklahoma’s direct-sold 529 college savings plan. It is designed for families who want to direct their own 529 college savings accounts. The plan is managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. Introduced in March 2009, OklahomaDream 529 Plan is offered through financial advisors and is managed by Allianz Global Investors. As of September 30, 2019, combined assets in both plans exceeded $1.1 billion. Oklahoma taxpayers may deduct, from their Oklahoma adjusted gross income, up to $10,000 in contributions to the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan for individual taxpayers and up to $20,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return with a five-year carryforward. Read the Disclosure Booklet carefully. Limitations may apply.*
*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. 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. (TFI), Plan Manager. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Member FINRA, distributor and underwriter for the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan.