By Treasurer David McRae
What do you want to be when you grow up?
We have all faced and been challenged by that question at one point or another. For our kids who are currently dreaming about future professions, many will answer, “doctor,” or “fireman,” or “policeman,” or even “President.” That’s the beauty of the next generation. They have boundless opportunities and an unlimited imagination. This year, give your kids the chance to express those dreams with skillful creativity by entering the 10th annual Mississippi College Savings Art Contest.
Each year, the Mississippi Treasury gives students, ages Pre-K through Grade 12, the opportunity to compete for $3,000 in scholarships – and this year’s contest is officially open until Tuesday, February 28, 2023.
We offer awards in four age categories (PreK-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12), with the first-place contestant in each age group receiving a $500 scholarship, second place receiving $250, and third place receiving $100. The scholarships come in the form of a Mississippi Affordable College Savings (MACS) account, offered through the Mississippi Treasury.
The average Mississippi college graduate enters the workforce with $33,000 in student loan debt. That level of debt not only hinders our students’ pursuit of additional education, but in many cases can mean delaying major life events like purchasing a home, getting married, or starting a family.
MACS, however, makes it easy for parents, guardians, and kids to start saving money for those expenses. It operates similarly to a savings account, allowing you to earn interest while also delivering tax advantages for most contributors. Parents, grandparents, and others can open an account for as little as $25, making it a great gift idea for birthdays, holidays, and even kindergarten graduations.
It’s one of the best ways to invest in the next generation and the future success of your loved ones. Starting early and contributing regularly allows you to take advantage of the power of compound interest and helps lessen the amount a student must borrow to pay for college.
A MACS investment does require funds to be used on educational expenses, but there is a lot that will qualify. Families can use MACS dollars for tuition, books, supplies, and certain room and board expenses. If your child attends a private school, the tax-advantaged funds can be used for elementary and secondary tuition expenses as well. It’s also a great option if you’re saving for advanced education, such as a Master’s or Doctorate. To learn more about MACS, visit Treasury.MS.gov/MACS.
For the students participating in this year’s Art Contest, I’m hopeful the winning scholarships will kickstart recipients’ college-saving plans while increasing awareness about the benefits of starting a MACS account. While you’re on the Treasury website, take a few minutes to also learn about our affordable pre-paid tuition plan that lets families lock in today’s rates to beat inflation and avoid future price increases.
This contest celebrates seeing the ordinary from a new perspective, and that’s the same skill set required to succeed in both higher education and the workforce. I’ve been blown away by the talent and creativity in past years, so I’m already looking forward to the 2023 submissions. The contest closes on February 28, so now is the time to sign up and put paintbrush to paper!
Whether your child’s response to “what do you want to be when you grow up” is “Princess” or “President,” please visit Treasury.MS.gov/ArtContest to learn more about this unique scholarship opportunity.
Mississippi Treasurer David McRae is the 55th Treasurer for the State of Mississippi. In this role, he helps manage the state’s cash flow, oversees College Savings Mississippi, and has returned nearly $65 million in unclaimed money to Mississippians. For more information, visit Treasury.MS.gov.