New Interactive Web Tool Helps Tennessee Families Better Understand College Savings

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The TNStars College Savings 529 Program unveiled a new interactive program guide on its web site. The online tutorial is designed to help Tennesseans quickly and easily learn about the State of Tennessee’s new college savings program.  Anyone who visits www.

tnstars.com can use the interactive guide for free.

 

The interactive guide helps people explore options for saving for a child’s college education expenses – from calculating how much to save each month, to learning about common myths and facts regarding 529 plans and other related topics. There are even fun quizzes along the way to test how much site users have learned.

 

The Tennessee Stars College Savings 529 Program is a tax-advantaged college savings plan that is designed to help Tennessee parents, grandparents and friends support the educational needs of loved ones. The plan takes its name from Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code, which authorized the creation of tax-advantaged plans in 1996.

 

“Tennessee needs a highly-educated workforce to continue to attract businesses that bring new jobs to the state,” said Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. “And the TNStars College Savings 529 Program offers Tennesseans a low-cost way to save for children’s college expenses with attractive investment options and special tax advantages.”

 

The addition of the interactive guide isn’t the only big news from the TNStars program. The Tennessee Department of Treasury also recently announced that a popular incentive for the program was being extended. When the program launched last September, the Treasury Department offered a $50 match for the first $50 invested in a new account and a $100 incentive for new accounts that were rolled over from other 529 plans. Those incentives were initially offered through Dec. 31, 2012. However, both incentives proved to be so popular that they have been extended through June 30. While participation in the TNStars program is open to anyone, including people living in other states, the incentives are only offered to Tennessee residents.

 

There are many benefits to investing with TNStars College Savings 529 Program. The plan is available to everyone and the investment returns on savings are tax free as long as they are used for approved education-related expenses. The money saved may be applied to higher education, including public or private colleges and universities inside or outside the state of Tennessee as well as any other educational entities eligible to receive federal student loan funds, such as Tennessee technology centers.

Benefits of TNStars include:

 

·         Low fees that will be on par with the top-rated plans in the nation;

·         14 investment options and an age-based option covering a wide array of investment strategies;

·         Federal tax-free earnings if the money is used for higher education expenses;

·         Availability to anyone regardless of income level. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends can open accounts on behalf of children;

·         Contributions qualify for a $13,000 annual federal gift tax exclusion. Also, a lump sum of $65,000 may be contributed to a 529 plan and treated as if it were made over a five-year period to completely avoid the federal gift tax; and

·         Plan contributions aren’t considered to be a part of an estate for federal tax purposes. Account owners still retain control of the accounts, but do not pay federal estate taxes on the value of the accounts. But if a gift is spread over five years and the account owner passes away within the five years, a portion of the gift will be included in the estate.

 

Participants have control over how they manage their investments with the TNStars College Savings 529 Program. The plan offers an age-based option in which investments are more aggressive when children are young and then become more conservative as the children approach college age. The plan also offers individual investment options, including domestic and international equities, balanced fund options, fixed income options, and an FDIC-insured option. The underlying investments for the plan will be offered from more than one fund company.

 

Anyone interested in opening an account with the TNStars College Savings 529 Program can learn more by calling 855/386-7827 toll-free. 


Businesses are also encouraged to make it easier for their employees to save by offering payroll deductions to the program.. Any business interested in offering payroll deductions can learn more by calling 855/386-7827 toll-free. 



Bea Lyons Honored At “Tea For Bea”

When Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Kimberly McCormick, established the Faculty Fellows Program during 2014, several well-known and respected educators were named as inaugural fellows. The Social and Behavioral Science Division honored Bea Lyons as its fellow. A special “Tea for Bea” was recently held to serve as a springboard for the first endowed fellowship ... (click for more)

Chattanooga State Kimball Announces Early College Open House

Chattanooga State Community College announces an Early College Open House on Wednesday from 4-6 p.m. CST at the Chattanooga State Kimball Site at 2100 Main St. in Kimball. College representatives will be on site to answer questions, assist with dual enrollment grant applications and process registrations on the spot.  Chattanooga State's Early College Program gives students ... (click for more)

Unexpected Amount East Ridge Owes On Fire Hall Property Rises To $603,000; City To Apply For Reimbursement

The unexpected amount the city of East Ridge will owe the state on the fire hall property in connection with the Bass Pro development has risen to $603,000. Earlier, East Ridge officials said the payment would be $428,000. City Manager Andrew Hyatt said Monday, "The Tennessee Department of Transportation notified the city of East Ridge that an appraisal of the city’s former ... (click for more)

Fire Breaks Out At House Off Highway 58

A fire broke out on Memorial Day afternoon at a house off Highway 58. A 911 call was made at 12:10 p.m. reporting a house fire at 6019 Hillcrest Dr. The Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department responded and found fire showing on an addition to the house. Firefighters worked quickly entering the addition to extinguish the fire from spreading to the main level of the house. ... (click for more)

A Memorial Day Reflection

I wish I could find that combination of words that would capture an inclusive meaning of Memorial Day.  I have attended many Memorial Day programs at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, so many that now they have merged into one memory.  But what stands out is that each year there are more friends and veterans to visit.  Some gave their all many years ago.  And ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Keep Your ‘Dirty’ Feed

Mark Twain once observed the difference in a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives. You might remember that when you hear that a group of Tennessee Walking Horse trainers just donated two tons of horse feed “to aid and assist in the rehabilitation” of 55 horses that were rescued from deplorable conditions at a West Tennessee farm. The truth is that the horses were taken ... (click for more)