By Treasurer David McRae
Welcome back to school! Our three children are excited to be back in school and are off to a great start, and I hope all of your families are also adjusting well to new schedules. The Mississippi Department of Education has back-to-school information and resources for students and families available for you to access online at www.mdek12.org.
This also seems like a good time to once again present information about the college savings plans offered by your State Treasury. It’s hard to think about how fast time flies, but if you have a third grader who is nine years old, that child is half-way to college! The best time for parents and grandparents to save and prepare for college expenses is now. With soaring inflation costing us more at the gas pumps, the grocery store, and everywhere else, I know saving for college may not be top of mind or seem all that urgent, but the sooner you start, the more you can earn and save. Here are a few tips.
- Help your student succeed academically. Encourage them to take advantage of advanced placement (AP) courses, which can count as college credit hours. This will save both time and money in the long run. Additionally, help them achieve the best ACT or SAT scores possible. Then, research which schools offer scholarships or aid based on academic performance.
- Save what you can now. Even if you’re starting late, four years of saving is better than zero. Through College Savings Mississippi, you can open a Mississippi Affordable College Savings (MACS) account for as little as $25. Once you make that first deposit, your investments have an opportunity to grow tax free. Set up a monthly direct deposit to help ensure consistent contributions. To learn more, visit Treasury.MS.gov/MACS.
- Invite your family to participate. Once you set up a MACS account, almost anyone can contribute to it. Consider encouraging your child to ask friends and family members to make contributions to their MACS account as birthday or holiday gifts. It could also be used as an incentive for academic performance or as payment for a job well done.
Take a few minutes to check to see if you or other family members have unclaimed money by checking our website at Treasury.MS.gov. One in ten Mississippians have unclaimed money. This could be from an old bank account or utility deposit or other sources long forgotten. We make the online claims process quick and easy, or if you see your name, give us a call to get your claim started. Finding some unexpected, unclaimed money could be a great way to use those funds to get a college savings account set up for a loved one.
Whether your child is six or 16, take a few minutes this week to look into a College Savings Mississippi plan. If you prefer to skip the online research, simply call our team at 601-359-3600 to get your questions answered. Even if you aren’t sure of your child’s education ambitions at this point, know that a MACS account is very flexible. It can be used on tuition at a two- or four-year college, apprenticeship programs, books, room and board, and much more. It can even be rolled over to another beneficiary, if you’d like.
I know it can seem like we have an eternity before our kids will leave the nest, but whether we like it or not, that reality is often closer than it seems. So, give us a call and get started now. Katie and I are wishing you and your family a wonderful new school year.
Mississippi Treasurer David McRae is the 55th Treasurer for the State of Mississippi. In this role, he helps manage the state’s cash flow, oversees College Savings Mississippi, and has returned more than $50 million in unclaimed money to Mississippians. For more information, visit Treasury.MS.gov.