Treasurer Kennedy Announces More Louisiana Citizens Are Planning for Higher Education

BATON ROUGE, LA More Louisiana citizens are planning ahead for the rising costs of higher education as evidenced by an increase in contributions and participants in the state’s Student Tuition Assistance and Revenue Trust (START) program, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.

START closed the year with $3.7 million in new contributions and 1,608 new accounts, compared to $1.4 million in new contributions and 601 new accounts opened in 2000. This recent influx of new participants brings the total number of accounts to 4,307 with a total fund balance of contributions of $7.5 million.

We’ve been working hard to show the public that new incentives make START even more attractive for saving money for college, said Treasurer Kennedy. It looks like our efforts are paying off. Whats really amazing is that toward the end of the year, we had close to $900,000 in contributions and 315 new accounts in one month alone. That’s more than five times the amount of contributions and participants we had the same time a year ago.

Louisiana’s START program is for parents, grandparents, other family members, friends, businesses and benefactors who want to save money for a child’s expenses at any approved university, vocational-technical school or community college. It takes $10 to open an account, and account owners may invest at a pace they are comfortable with.

The program offers a competitive rate of return and state matches on most contributions. If the child is a family member, the state will match a portion of deposits into a START account from 2 percent to 14 percent depending upon the family’s adjusted gross income. If the child is not a family member, the state will still provide a 2 percent match if the child is a Louisiana resident.

For Louisiana residents, we believe START is now the best college savings plan in the nation, said Jack L. Guinn, Executive Director of the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance. We’ve been able to make a number of positive changes to the program, and they’re working. Were also looking forward to choosing additional investment options in the near future that may offer greater returns for our account holders.

START is tax-free from start to finish and individuals can exempt up to $2,400 in deposits per account per year from income reported on their state tax returns. If an individual does not take the full $2,400 in one year, he or she can carry unused portions forward to subsequent years. Treasurer Kennedy encourages citizens to check their new state income tax booklets to learn more.

For more information on the START program, visit www.latreasury.comand click on START, or call the Office of Student Financial Assistance toll-free at 1-800-259-5626, ext. 1012.

Contact:
Sarah Mulhearn, Communication Director
(225) 342-0012