College savings discussed at Rotary meeting

COLUMBIA CITY — Big plans start with a simple choice — this is the working mantra of a company that has developed a way to save for a child’s college education.Jodi Golden, a representative for College Choice 529, was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s Rotary Club meeting in Columbia City.She came from Indianapolis to discuss the Choice 529 plan and its direct savings program set up to offer parents a planned way of providing for someone’s future educational needs.College savings plans, according to the brochure, are designed to help save for college tuition, room and board, books, supplies and other education expenses. The person contributing to the plan on behalf of a loved one like a son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter, benefits with tax-deferred earnings, tax-free qualified withdrawals, while still having control over how the assets are used.Account contributors can also have the added advantage of gift tax and estate planning benefits. All this is designed to make the donor’s money work harder for them. An account can be set up for as little as $25. All of the available programs are designed to ease the typical college debt. According to Golden, “the average person comes out of college with $29,000 in debt.” This program helps alleviate that debt by a planned savings program early on in the child’s life. Getting started in the savings plan is very easy, according to Golden. “A person could sign up online in about 10 minutes,” she said. And the means by which one can pay for it varies. Donors could choose to have a payroll deduction; enroll in an auto investment plan, or contribute by monthly check.Donors can include friend and relatives. Contributions could be made in lieu of a birthday present, or perhaps a Christmas gift.One question Golden says she is asked is — “What if my child doesn’t go on to college?” And the answer is that there are options. The child could leave the money in the account and do nothing. In the event that child would still decide to go to college in the future, the money would still be accessible. Another option could be to change the beneficiary to another member of the family. Lastly, the money could be removed with a non-qualified withdrawal, but would be subject to all the usual taxes.Individuals wishing to know more about the College Choice 529 savings plan and other investment options can learn more at