New Mexico's Best-Kept Secret: More Education, Less Debt With The Education Plan
By: Jocelyn Black Hodes
Looking for an easy way to strengthen your current and future association membership? Associations could consider informing their members about the benefits of saving towards education goals through The Education Plan.
The Education Plan is New Mexico’s 529 education savings plan, administered by The Education Trust Board of New Mexico. It is intended to help more New Mexicans achieve their higher education goals and to reduce the burden of student debt. Since its creation more than 20 years ago, the plan has grown to more than 23,000 accounts with over $575 million in total assets. Yet, less than half of accounts are for New Mexican beneficiaries; hence why The Education Plan is referred to as “New Mexico’s best-kept secret.”
Studies show that with just $500 saved, individuals are four times more likely to graduate from a post-high school program of study. With no minimum contribution required, an account can be opened at any time and savings can easily grow with the help of contributions from family and friends. Plus, contributions are fully deductible on New Mexico state income tax returns. Investment growth and distributions are tax-free as long as the account is used for qualified education expenses.
The Education Plan is both flexible and versatile, individuals can open an account for anyone – a child, other loved ones or even themselves—and corporations and organizations can even create a pooled 529 fund for the benefit of eligible recipients based on their own criteria. Plan funds can pay for more than 200 qualified expenses including tuition, housing, books, computers, fees and more, and can be used at any accredited college, university, trade or vocational school anywhere in the country or online, and even many internationally.
If a plan beneficiary doesn’t use the money in the account, the account owner can change the beneficiary to another member of the family. Members can also roll over 529 plans from other states into The Education Plan, so they can benefit from the tax savings on contributions while living in New Mexico. In addition, 529 plan savings have a minimal effect on financial aid eligibility if owned by a parent or the student.
Associations can easily promote a strong workforce by educating their members on how to enhance their benefits package by including The Education Plan. Dedicated outreach staff members are available to conduct educational workshops, supply information and provide hands-on enrollment assistance. If more associations and employers followed suit, it could have an unprecedented impact on workforce and economic development in New Mexico.
To learn more about offering The Education Plan as an employee benefit, visit www.theeducationplan.com/employers or call (505)321-2239. Please tell them that you are a member of the New Mexico Society of Association Executives.
Jocelyn Black Hodes is the marketing director for The Education Trust Board of New Mexico.