Don’t Let the Thought of College Savings Scare You

Have you been looking forward to fall? Evenings are getting cooler and conversations with your kids about this year's Halloween costume have started. Do you want to be a skeleton? A unicorn? A dinosaur?  Oh, the joys of fall!

Conversations with our kids include a variety of topics. From Halloween costumes, to snack preferences, to what they want to be when they grow up. Their dreams of becoming an astronaut, teacher, or firefighter can become a reality. Yes, many jobs require a certificate or degree, which can seem overwhelming when we start to think about where the funding will come from. The thought of putting your child through college shouldn't paralyze you, and definitely shouldn't be scarier than the masked-characters that show up on your doorstep on October 31st.

With hard work, dedication, and some planning, your child's future goals are attainable.

Conversations around college savings can never start too early, and anything saved now will benefit your child in the future. The cost of a college education can be daunting, yet planning ahead with a 529 college savings account can help provide peace of mind.

Washington administers two 529 plans that offer families a variety of savings options. The Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program is a prepaid 529 plan that guarantees your contributions will keep pace with the cost of tuition at the most expensive public state school in Washington. The DreamAhead College Investment Plan allows you to choose your own stock market-based investments, and your investment returns are tied to financial market performance.

Did you know that friends and family can also contribute to your 529 account? Inviting others to contribute provides your loved ones an opportunity to influence your child's future. Contributions in both GET and DreamAhead can be used at colleges, universities and technical schools across the country, and even abroad. Funds in a 529 account can be used for a variety of expenses (tuition, room and board, books, supplies, etc.), and contributions grow tax free if they're used for qualified higher education expenses.

Don't be scared to start the dialogue and include the family in the conversation (yes, even the little ones!). Explaining the importance of saving for college may inspire your kids to reach even higher!

So, take a deep breath, grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte, and start saving!

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