By Treasurer David McRae
Spring has bloomed here in Mississippi. The temperature has warmed. Buds have exploded into blossoms. And pollen… Well, the pollen has seemingly caked every outdoor surface. With the changes occurring outside our windows comes a changing of seasons within many of our homes, as our children prepare to advance a grade or even leave the nest altogether. How have you prepared for the next season?
Today, around 58 percent of students graduate with student loan debt. Here in Mississippi, that debt averages out at more than $30,000 by the end of a four-year degree program. The financial liability can take years to pay off, delaying major life milestones like getting married, buying a home, or starting a family.
Moreover, those graduating today are walking into a difficult financial climate. Inflation is raging. The basic expenses of what is required to work – a cell phone, a car (used or otherwise), gas to put in that car, groceries to fuel your mind and body, a roof over your head, electricity and water, and maybe even a home internet connection – have skyrocketed. As a result, newly educated workers have almost no financial breathing room, making it difficult to pay off anything but the minimum amount of their student loans.
Fortunately, Mississippi has made it a priority to help families lessen our kids’ student loan debt burden. College Savings Mississippi, which is administered by my team at the State Treasury, helps families from all walks of life save for college.
Our Mississippi Affordable College Savings (MACS) accounts, for example, can be opened with a deposit of just $25. Keep contributing and watch those savings grow – with interest! One of the things I love about these accounts is how flexible they are. They can be used on tuition, as well as elementary and secondary private school tuition, apprenticeships, tech programs, room and board, books, and so much more.
Meanwhile, our Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (MPACT) program allows families to lock in today’s tuition rates, protect their child from tuition inflation, and finish paying for college before their son or daughter has their high school diploma. Of course, it’s not just parents who invest in these plans. We have a significant number of grandparents who have purchased MPACT plans as part of their estate planning.
As the weather changes, I urge you to think beyond summer break. Are you prepared for the next season in your child’s life? To get help planning and explore more options, please contact my College Savings Mississippi team at (601) 359-5255 or visit treasury.ms.gov/CollegeSavings.
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.