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The end of the year is near, and with it comes food, family, friends, celebration and giving. Lots and lots of giving. And we’re not just talking about presents. Just in time for tax season, nearly one third of all annual giving happens in the month of December. And 12 percent of that giving happens in the last three days of the year. If you’re still undecided on where to give this year, consider giving a gift that will last forever. Consider giving to support higher education.

Children and young adults, no matter what age, have dreams. They have dreams of becoming teachers and journalists. Doctors and police officers. They even have dreams of saving the world. Unfortunately, due to the rising costs of college, so many of these dreams come to an end before they can even really begin. Unlike many areas of financial giving, when you give toward higher education, you are giving much more than money. You are giving students the opportunity to see their dreams through. You are giving them the opportunity to succeed.

Regardless of the year, higher education is one of the costliest life expenses. In 2017, yearly tuition cost an average of $24,000 at public in-state universities and $49,000 at private institutions. While many people give to higher education via scholarship and grant funds, Achieve Montana offers individuals the chance to give in a much more personal way.

Achieve Montana is a 529 college savings plan administered by the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education that offers several special advantages, including tax-deferred growth, generous contribution limits, and professional investment management.

For just $25, you or someone you know can open an Achieve Montana account today and begin saving for a loved one’s college education. Anyone with a Social Security number can be a beneficiary and anyone can contribute to the account. When the beneficiary is ready to attend college, the money in the account can be used toward a number of qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, school laptops, books, education-related software, and room and board.

The best part? You still receive all the tax benefits that come with annual giving. All earnings in an Achieve Montana account grow tax deferred and are free from federal taxes when used for qualified higher education expenses like those mentioned above. And if you’re a Montanan, there may be even more benefits for you! (Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10 percent federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes and penalties. Tax and other benefits are contingent on meeting other requirements.)

As Giving Tuesday rolls around, consider not just giving to higher education, but using an Achieve Montana account to do so. When you open or contribute to a 529 college savings plan like Achieve Montana, you know exactly where your money is going and to whom your money is going to. Achieve Montana makes giving personal and easy. 

For more information about Achieve Montana, download an Enrollment Kit at or call 877-486-9271. The Enrollment Kit includes a program description that discusses investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses and other important information. Read and consider it carefully before investing.

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Amy Berry of Helena is the pensions and education savings administrator for the Montana University System. Achieve Montana is sponsored by the state of Montana and administered by the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education, as sole trustee of the Montana Family Education Savings Trust.

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