[r85] Pond Report: Educational Options for your Child's Future (10/6/2011)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Start Date: 10/6/2011 All Day
End Date: 10/6/2011
With the rising rates of tuition at Indiana colleges, more and more students are beginning to wonder if a college degree is possible. All students and parents should know that even with the increase in cost, a college education is still achievable but may take more planning.

The rising tuition rates spurred me to research what options children in our state have when striving to further their educational choices and opportunities.

One option that many students can decide upon early in their life is the Twenty-First Century Scholars Program. This program is specifically for families of low to moderate income and is based on a pledge made by seventh and eighth graders to stay drug and alcohol free. The students must also maintain a certain grade point average and attend an Indiana college or university.

The Twenty-First Century Scholars Program started in 1990 with the purpose of ensuring that all students could afford a college education. If students fulfill their pledge, they are guaranteed the cost of four years of college tuition at any participating public college or university in Indiana.

Our state also provides a savings plan for college, called College Choice 529. Adults over the age of 18 can establish this type of account for a child as soon as he or she has been assigned a social security number. The account can be established for a newborn or for a child of any age.

All money deposited and earned will remain in the account until the student is enrolled in a post high school educational institution. The money can be distributed to pay for all of or a portion of the student's tuition and/or room and bored expenses.

Institutions eligible to receive this money include most accredited four-year colleges and universities, many accredited two-year institutions and certain proprietary or vocational schools.

Furthermore, Indiana tax payers are eligible for a state income tax credit of 20 percent on contributions for their College Choice 529 account up to a $1,000 credit per year. Investing in a College Choice 529 plan is a major step parents or even grandparents can take to be pro-active in the educational future of their loved ones.

I strongly encourage parents to start planning for their child's future. Earning a college degree is something that is important to all students, regardless of their socio-economic situation.

Having a solid education is a major component in succeeding in the 21st century workforce. All students and parents should know that there is help and opportunities available to make a college education possible for everyone.

For more information on these programs contact my legislative assistant, Tom Havens at 317-234-2993.