News Column

Kids in Georgia libraries' summer reading programs can enter sweepstakes for college money

May 28, 2014

By Terry Dickson, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville



May 28--BRUNSWICK -- Reading this summer can pay future dividends for children whose parents, grandparents or guardians enroll them in a program to save money for college.

In its fifth year, the Path2College 529 Plan is offering summer readers a chance to win cash prizes of $1,529 to four regional winners that will be placed into the savings plan and $5,529 to a grand prize winner, officials from the state-administered plan announced. Also the library through which the grand prize winner is registered will receive $1,529 and the home libraries of five regional winners will receive $529.

Mitch Seabaugh, executive director of the plan, is traveling to libraries around the state to announce the contest and to get more children enrolled in the college savings program that is exempt from state and federal taxes.

Seabaugh said there's no downside to participating.

"This is a way for children to experience the joy of reading while gaining many academic benefits,'' he said. "Our goal is to familiarize Georgians with the only state-sponsored 529 college savings plan and help families build a strong financial and academic foundation for the future."

More than 200,000 children participated in the summer reading program in 2013.

Seabaugh stopped by the Wednesday morning summer reading program at the Brunswick-Glynn County Library, the home of the Marshes of Glynn Regional Library, to get across the idea that college is necessary for most and that the 529 plan is a good way to help finance it. Although he spoke with the children, Seabaugh's message was mostly for their parents and others who had brought them to Karen Larrick's story time.

He first had to answer a few questions.

"Is your car on the roof?" a child asked although in his dark suit, gold tie and western boots Seabaugh didn't look anything like Santa Claus.

"No. Is that fun?" Seabaugh asked.

"No,'' a child answered, ''because when you come down, you'll fall."

Seabaugh asked the children what they want to do when they grow up. They answered police officer, firefighter, jazz dancer, superstar and skateboarder.

"Are you from Walmart?" a child asked.

"No. I'm not from Walmart,'' Seabaugh said.

He said their plans for the future were all good, but explained that first, "There's some learning you have to do. We're providing an opportunity to win some money to do that."

He also told the parents the money is held in trust and there will be some future investment options to grow it. Participants get a state income tax deduction, he said.

Seabaugh asked Larrick what she would do with the money should a reader from Marshes of Glynn win some sweepstakes cash.

"I'd buy some library books,'' Larrick said.

Emma Walker, 8, was among those who aspire to superstardom and appears on her way.

In addition to reading this summer, she will take guitar, piano and voice training and continue karate and tennis.

Her mother, Sydney Walker, said it's fine if Emma wants to be a superstar, but only after college.

"Her father and I aren't going to let her get out of that,'' she said.

Georgia has 63 library systems that have been divided into five groups for the sweepstakes. That way, smaller systems such as Glynn County's Marshes of Glynn, which has only two libraries, and Okefenokee Regional in Waycross and Three Rivers in Jesup won't have to compete against "The Bigs" like the Atlanta-Fulton, Cobb County and eight other larger systems, spokeswoman Jennifer Wiggins said.

June 10 is the last day to register for children's and teens' summer reading programs, but parents, grandparents or legal guardians of children living in Georgia can enter the sweepstakes online through Aug. 10 at www.path2college529.com.

Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405

___

(c)2014 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Visit The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) at www.jacksonville.com

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Source: Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL)


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