On Wednesday, Eric Schmitt made his first stop in Sedalia since being sworn in as Missouri Treasurer last month to help more Missourians learn about investment accounts.
Schmitt was visiting Sedalia to meet with Sierra Bullets President Pat Daly as the company has announced a new employee benefit related to MOST 529 college savings accounts, which the Missouri treasurer oversees.
Schmitt told both Daly and the Democrat that MOST 529 and the ABLE program are a “primary focus for our administration.”
“We’re being very deliberate about getting out and promoting the things that we do, especially the 529 and ABLE stuff, we want to make people aware of it,” Schmitt told the Democrat after his visit. “We want to increase the number of accounts that are open on the 529 MOST side, but make people aware — it’s amazing the number of places I talk about ABLE accounts and no one’s heard of that.”
A 529 college saving plan is a type of investment account citizens can use for higher-education savings, usually sponsored by a state, according to MissouriMOST.org.
Once a Missourian opens an account, the account owner chooses investments, assigns a beneficiary — in the case of a higher-education saving account, the beneficiary is the student who will use the funds — and determines how the money is used. If a Missourian opens a Missouri 529 college savings plan, they can benefit from the state tax deduction.
Opening an account is free and the account owner chooses how much to contribute to it by check, recurring contributions, electronic bank transfer, payroll direct deposit, or by moving money from other education savings vehicles, the website states.
The account owner also chooses the investments that are right for their needs in terms of risk and investing style.
The money in a 529 account can be used to pay for qualified education expenses at post-secondary trade and vocational schools, two- and four-year colleges and postgraduate programs.
“They’re really easy to do. You can open an account, you can put money in every month, but really it’s about saving for the future of our state,” Schmitt explained. “I’m a sixth-generation Missourian, I want my young kids to have every opportunity to get a great education here, to have a career here. Empowering individuals to save is a really important thing for our office.”
Schmitt is also educating citizens on a new savings account, the Missouri Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Program. ABLE allows citizens to save for loved ones with disabilities with a tax-exempt savings account to help provide for basic necessities.
“The ABLE Act, that was certainly personal for me having a son with a disability,” Schmitt said. “Passing that law back in 2015 (as a state senator) and now as state treasurer implementing that, I think it just provides more opportunity and more hope for families in Missouri that the needs of their loved ones can be met by empowering them to save.”
For more information about MOST 529 and the ABLE program, visit treasurer.mo.gov.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.