CHARLESTON, (W.Va.) – State Treasurer Riley Moore and the Board of Trustees of the West Virginia College and Jumpstart Savings Programs today kicked off the 20th anniversary celebration of SMART529, West Virginia’s premiere college savings program.
“West Virginia has always led the way in investing in our children’s education, and the SMART529 program has been key in helping families save for the future,” Treasurer Moore said. “Within two decades, this program has surged to $3 billion in assets under management, gaining prominence by consistently being one of the top-ranked 529 programs in the country.”
Treasurer Moore kicked off the 20th anniversary celebration with an open house reception at the Capitol Tuesday morning. The Treasurer’s Office and SMART529 Board plan to announce additional promotional events throughout the year to mark the milestone.
The West Virginia Legislature passed the West Virginia College Prepaid Tuition and Savings Program Act in 2001 to allow the State Treasurer’s Office to begin offering college education savings plans under Section 529 of Internal Revenue Code.
On March 1, 2002, the program’s Board of Trustees and Hartford Funds signed a management agreement officially launching West Virginia’s SMART529 College Savings Plan to the public.
Since then, the SMART529 College Savings Plan has grown to more than $3 billion in assets under management, with more than 37,600 accounts held by West Virginia residents, with tens of thousands more accounts held by individuals nationwide.
Research from the Center for Social Development shows that children with even a small college savings account are 2.5 times more likely to enroll in and graduate from college than children with nothing set aside for higher education. Studies have also shown that a college graduate can earn $1 million more over the course of their lifetime than an individual who only has a high-school diploma.
“Our SMART529 plans empower students and families to take control of their educational future,” Treasurer Moore said. “With rising tuition and student loans costs, it’s never too early to start saving for a child’s future.”
The SMART529 plan has been expanded many times over the years to make it more accessible to the public. Accounts can be opened for as little as $1, and the Bright Babies program has helped more than 4,800 West Virginia infants to receive $100 for an account opened before their first birthday.
Last year, Treasurer Moore announced the launch of the READYSAVE 529 Mobile App, to help individuals manage their accounts from their smartphones.
SMART529 is a qualified tuition program issued by the Board of Trustees of the West Virginia College and Jumpstart Savings Programs and administered by Hartford Funds. Complete information about SMART529 plans and investment options is available at www.SMART529.com.