Governor Bill Lee has issued a proclamation declaring September as College Savings Month in Tennessee. To celebrate, State Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. and the TNStars College Savings 529 Program are giving away three $529 scholarships this month.

Tennessee residents age 21 and older can enter the scholarship giveaway online at TNStars.com/scholarship on behalf of a child age 15 or under, now through September 30, 2021. Winners will be announced October 1, and scholarship money will be deposited into a TNStars account.

“More and more, Tennesseans need a postsecondary credential to access family-sustaining careers. Opening a TNStars account is a great way to start conversations about the importance of planning for higher education and a smart way of investing in a child’s future success,” said Dr. Emily House, Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and member of the College Savings Trust Fund Program Board of Trustees.

National student loan debt has surpassed $1.7 trillion. One way families can help avoid student loan debt is by saving in a tax-advantaged 529 account. The TNStars College Savings 529 Program was created to encourage Tennessee families to save and invest for the future cost of post-secondary education. Families can open an account with as little as $25 to start. Money in the account can be used to complement other financial resources that may be available to the student in the future.

“The TNStars College Savings 529 Program is a great way for parents to invest in their children’s future and avoid college debt,’ said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor, Dr. Flora W. Tydings, a member of the College Savings Board. “While Tennessee Promise covers tuition and some mandatory fees at our community and technical colleges for two years  – and our colleges remain a tremendous bargain – there are still financial hurdles that students face, including class-specific fees, textbooks, supplies and other costs that investments in the program will cover. Our students who continue their educations at a university face those costs later.”

Research shows that students with dedicated savings for college are about seven times more likely to attend college than children with no dedicated account. TNStars offers quality investment options at a low cost, so families can save more money for college. Even small, consistent contributions to a 529 account can make a big impact over time.

“It’s never too early to consider establishing a college savings account!” said Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr., president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, and a member of the College Savings Trust Fund Program Board of Trustees. “It’s critical to take advantage of compounding interest and expertise of the TNStars program in your college savings strategy. Navigating college affordability will come sooner than you think.”

Money invested in a TNStars account grows tax-free when used for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, room and board, books, computers and more. The College Savings Month Proclamation states that, on average, more than 37 cents of every dollar saved in a TNStars account is the result of investment earnings.

“It’s important to start saving early, so that compounding interest works for you rather than against you with student loans,” said Treasurer Lillard. “The TNStars program was launched in September 2012, and today there are 21,412 TNStars accounts.”

TNStars is a program of the Tennessee Department of Treasury. To learn more about TNStars or to open an account, visit TNStars.com.

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