Greenville News Features Treasurer Loftis and SC 529

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Funding Education is a Key to Future

December 13, 2015

Greenville News

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/12/13/funding-education-key-future/77059862/

A strong financial future for our children is crucial to achieving a strong South Carolina, and in today’s world, a child’s path to securing that financial health is most likely through a college education.

Michael Ericson, author of a recent study conducted by LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute remarked that, “attending college has morphed from a privilege into a necessity for so many.”  Of course, a college education comes with a hefty price tag that all too often leads to substantial debt. My office is dedicated to helping young people realize the goal of achieving a college education without incurring crippling debt. This commitment to the financial future of our young people has helped make South Carolina’s Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan one of the top plans in the nation and one of the best choices for anyone who wishes to make an investment in a loved one’s education.

It is clear that Future Scholar is the smart way to save for college costs, and it’s the easy way, too. No minimum amount is required to open a Future Scholar account, and anyone can contribute. Future Scholar offers tax deductible contributions, tax-deferred growth, and tax-free distributions for any qualified education-based purposes. You can use Future Scholar account funds at any eligible two-or four-year educational institutions, which include both in-state and out-of-state schools, as well as some international schools.

A 2012 renegotiation of Future Scholar’s program management contract was a key component in achieving a top-notch college savings plan. The new contract significantly cut fees making Future Scholar one of the lowest-cost 529 plans in the country. Money Magazine has called South Carolina’s Future Scholar 529 Plan “a leader in low fees,” saying, “South Carolina eliminated program management fees and dropped investment expenses for in-state residents,” and  the Wall Street Journal has recognized Future Scholar as having the highest state tax deduction of any 529 plan in the country.

In addition to lowering management costs, the new contract required the management company to create public awareness through marketing Future Scholar and promoting the importance of financial literacy to young people within our state, both at no cost to the taxpayers. With the funds provided, we have created a financial literacy outreach program which allows us to expand our commitment to the financial health of South Carolina’s young people. As a result, the Future Scholar Financial Literacy Program, an interactive, web-based financial education initiative, is bringing critical financial education to over 100 elementary schools across South Carolina, with plans to bring the program to many other schools in the years ahead.

It is the success of Future Scholar that is making financial literacy outreach possible. With a total of 121,000 accounts and $2.3 billion under management, Future Scholar's strong value and investment strategies continue to earn the program national recognition. Savingforcollege.com awarded Future Scholar its highest rating of five caps and ranked Future Scholar as one of the top ten plans in the nation for program performance, as well as one of the top five plans in the nation for lowest program management cost. Future Scholar also received a bronze rating in both the direct-to-investor distribution category and the adviser distribution category from Morningstar, a leading provider of independent investment research. The two Bronze ratings earned Future Scholar two places on Morningstar’s list of 29 plans likely to outperform their peers.

The financial health of our citizens is so important. With the holidays approaching, I hope that anyone looking for a gift for a loved one will consider opening or contributing to a Future Scholar account. It’s never too early or too late to make a financially sound investment in a child’s future. You can open an account by visiting www.futurescholar.com or by contacting your financial adviser.

Curtis Loftis is the South Carolina state treasurer. For more information, treasurer.sc.gov.

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