By State Treasurer John Kennedy

Whether your child just started his first day of kindergarten or is about to enter high school, it is never too late to prepare for the rising costs of college. One of the best ways to do this is through START, the state’s 529 plan.

A state-sponsored 529 plan provides tax advantages to parents, grandparents or friends to save for a child’s college education.
START is recognized as one of the best 529 plans in the country and has received top honors from

The START program has experienced tremendous growth since I became Treasurer. In 2001, we had a little more than 3,000 accounts. Today, we have more than 37,000 accounts and $259.6 million in deposits.

START account owners can save for college using a variety of investments including stocks, bonds or a combination of both. All interest earned on START deposits is exempt from both federal and state taxes when used for higher education expenses. With a 2 percent to 14 percent state match on deposits (depending on your income), there simply is no better 529 plan for Louisiana residents.

START investors can deduct up to $2,400 in deposits per beneficiary per year from income reported on their state tax returns. The deduction is $4,800 for taxpayers who are married filing jointly. If you don’t take the full deduction one year, you can carry forward your unused portion to subsequent years.

START is also free from state and federal taxes when proceeds are used for college expenses. When it is time to withdraw money to pay for higher education costs, you will not pay state or federal taxes on the disbursements.

Louisiana students borrow $900 million a year in student loans for their undergraduate degrees. START is one way to help ease this burden on your child.

For more information or to open a START account for your child, click “START” on the Louisiana Department of the Treasury’s website at

Sarah Mulhearn
(225) 342-0012