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Path2College offers coloring sweepstakes

ATLANTA -- This month, coloring can help create a financial foundation for one Georgia child.

In recognition of College Savings Month, the Path2College 529 Plan is holding a coloring sweepstakes in which one child will be awarded $1,529 for his or her college savings plan.

"I am proud to once again join states across our country in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of saving for college by officially declaring September College Savings Month in Georgia," said Gov. Nathan Deal. "Education is the key to help our children succeed and achieve their dreams, and I hope families will begin planning for their children's future by saving today."

Earlier this summer, Deal challenged Georgia families to invest at least $25 per month for each Georgia child's college education. The governor and Treasurer Tommy Hills also announced new, lower fees, with reductions of as much as 49 percent, for the state's 529 college savings plan, the Path2College 529 Plan.

The plan also offers a state income tax deduction and other tax advantages that are designed to help Georgia families benefit from saving for their children's education.

"We hope that by raising awareness of the importance of saving for college through this sweepstakes and College Savings Month we will encourage families to create a financial plan for their children's continued education," said Chuck Penuel, director of the Path2Collge 529 Plan. "Unfortunately, college tuition is on the rise, and at the same time a college degree is becoming increasingly important in fields across the board while financial aid options are dwindling."

According to the College Board, the average cost for tuition and fees at four-year public institutions has increased nearly 51 percent over the last 10 years after adjusting for inflation.

"But despite the rising costs, with financial planning a college degree can be a reality for our children," said Penuel. "While most families won't be able to save the entire cost of a college education, that shouldn't dissuade them from saving as much as they can. The best strategy for saving for college is to start early and save regularly in order to establish college savings that can help offset student and parent loans."

To enter the coloring sweepstakes, children in prekindergarten through fifth grade should color Hootie the Wise Old Owl and answer the question, "When I graduate, I'm going to be a ." Coloring sheets and official rules can be found at www.Path2College529.com.

Entries must be submitted by a parent or legal guardian, post-marked by Sept. 30 and must be received by Oct. 11.

One winner will be drawn at random in October to receive the prize of $1,529. The winner's school also will receive $1,000.

The Path2College 529 Plan is a state of Georgia program that helps families prepare for the future costs of college tuition and other qualified expenses, such as fees, books and certain room and board costs for colleges in Georgia and nationwide.