Pictured are 16-year-old twins Joseph and Marien, Diane and husband Mario.
A local mother of 16-year-old twins has won $2,529 for her children’s college education from the Virginia529 College Savings Plan (Virginia529). Diane Alejandro of Fairfax received the prize for entering Virginia529’s “Turning Dreams into Reality” contest that was part of September’s College Savings Month celebrations.
Alejandro saves for the twins’ quickly approaching double college tuition bill with Virginia529 inVEST, one of four 529 College savings programs available from Virginia529. All Virginia529 programs allow families to save tax-free for qualified higher education expenses like tuition, books and room and board.
“We make a regular monthly contribution, and put in more when possible,” wrote Alejandro in her entry. “[College] still will cost us something … but we won't have to empty our retirement funds and work until we are 85 to pay for it. And our children won't be paying off student loans until they are old enough to be sending their own kids through college.”
Although having twins has been “doubly expensive,” Alejandro refers to the effort of saving for college with Virginia529 inVEST as “a huge success.”
Three other entries earned honorable mention prizes; each will receive a $529 inVEST contribution.
Leslie Croson of Centreville is saving to help four young granddaughters with college expenses. She is motivated by a 20-year-old promise she made to her father the night before he died.
“I made a promise to him then and there that his two grandsons would go to college,” Croson wrote. “Today we are grandma and grandpa and I pray a new tradition has started and will stay intact for generations to come. Our legacy and a tribute to my father [will be] to leave our granddaughters with enough money for each to go to college when the time comes.”
University of Virginia student Samuel Brott wrote from the perspective of a college savings account beneficiary. He credits his mother for making “the best investment any parent could make” by paying for his college tuition in advance using Virginia529 prePAID. “Many of my friends are paying for their own college tuitions and working hard jobs to pay their loans back,” Brott wrote in his entry. “I go to class, do my homework … knowing that I am financially secure and don't have to pay back student loans.”
Karen Cotto of Alexandria was a single mother working an entry-level job when she followed a family member’s advice and opened a Virginia529 prePAID account for her daughter.
“I was afraid to commit to paying a bill for 14 years,” she described. “[However] I realized it would secure a future for her … and [be the] one thing I could give her that I wasn't able to give to myself.”
The winners were selected from more than 350 submissions. The goal of the contest was to collect testimonials from current and past Virginia529 account holders that would inspire and motivate other families to begin saving.
The stories highlight the many ways that families are using Virginia529 programs to plan for the future.
Virginia529 CEO Mary Morris noted, “Each of our programs is unique and has features to help families find a path that works for them, from the certain benefits of a prePAID contract to the flexibility and very low contribution requirements—as low as $25—with inVEST or an FDIC-insured CollegeWealth account.”