Fairbanks one-year-old receives $25,000 scholarship
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - At his first birthday party, Boon Branson’s parents suprised their guests with a special announcement. Branson had been selected as the recipient of a 25 thousand-dollar scholarship from Alaska 529, an education savings plan.
Boon’s mother Megan Branson said, “We had a few guests. They were close friends and family that live here locally. None of them knew about the drawing either, and we kept it secret until the ceremony and they were all super surprised.”
Branson was chosen out of all Permanent Fund Dividend applicants who checked a box on their applications designating at least 50 percent of their dividend to an Alaska 529 plan.
According to Branson, she did not know that there would be a drawing. “That wasn’t my motivation for checking the box. We were saving all of his PFD money anyway, for college, in a savings account.”
According to Lael Oldmixon, Executive Director of Alaska 529, “Alaska 529 is a tax-advantaged way for Alaska families to save for future education. 529s were established under the IRS Tax Code 529, and so they’re available and offered by most states across the country.”
Oldmixon said the plan allows “families to invest their money for future education without having to pay taxes on the earnings portion of their investments.”
According to Oldmixon, this scholarship giveaway has been offered annually for the last 11 years, and this is the second time the recipient has been from Fairbanks.
Funds from the scholarship are available for college-related expenses at vocational, technical, trade, college, university and apprenticeship programs around the country. These expenses include, tuition, supplies and books.
“When it’s time for him to go to college, he’ll be an adult, so it will be his decision where to go and what to do -- but I definitely want us to be a family where everyone goes to college if they can,” Branson said.
During the time between the scholarship recipient’s selection and their use of the funds, the money is invested. Recipients have a choice between 14 different portfolios. “The account holders have total control over their accounts,” Oldmixon said, adding “We want to see Alaskans achieve their goals. We want to see Alaskans thrive, and we’ve seen massive student loan debt across the country. We have a tool that helps individuals save so they don’t have to be burdened and saddled by debt later."
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