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A New Hope

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Over the last few months, nearly every aspect of our everyday lives and societal norms seems to have been turned upside down and stomped on. I think it’s safe to say that 2020 is a year most of us may want to forget as soon as possible – but will likely remember for a long time.

For my wife, Anna, and I, 2020 will be impossible to forget. In February we welcomed our first child, Hope, into the world. Her name choice seemed inconsequential when we picked it out back in late 2019. At the time we just thought that Hope was a pretty name, it wasn’t overly popular (yet), and it gave us – you guessed it – ‘hope’ for the future. If only we had known how prophetic this naming decision would be. Ironically, in our quest to be somewhat unique, it turns out that Hope has become quite the popular pandemic baby name. Begrudgingly, I suppose we can share our Hope’s name with the ten other “Hopes” who will be going through school with her. I think we are all in need of some hope right now.

Life with a newborn, while exhausting at times (well, all the time), is more amazing and awe-inspiring than I ever thought it could be. Nearly five months into this new adventure Hope has already outgrown her clothes three times, is almost rolling over on her own, and has perfected her happy pterodactyl screech. Best of all she’s really starting to show her personality and is a ton of fun!

As I watch Hope grow up at what seems like light speed, I can’t help but think of the stories I hear from all those brave parents who have gone before me.

   “They’ll grow up in the blink of an eye!”

   ”Enjoy this stage while it lasts!”

   ”You’ll turn around and all of a sudden they’ll be heading off to college!”

That last one really hits home for me given my career choice of helping families save for future college costs. I count myself lucky to work in the 529 College Savings Plan industry, because I have had a head start that many new parents don’t. The importance of saving for future education costs was ingrained in me well before I even considered having kids. I didn’t think twice about opening and funding a 529 savings account for Hope before she was born. Yet, even with this head start, I’m still anxious that just as Anna and I start getting the hang of this parenting thing, it will already be time for college, and we won’t have done enough to prepare.

So where do we go from here?

As a parent, I’m going to do my best to keep my future education savings efforts going for Hope with regular contributions. And you can believe I won’t be shy about reminding Hope’s doting grandparents that philanthropic contributions to her 529 account make great gifts for birthdays, holidays, tying shoes for the first time or other exciting milestones we celebrate in Hope’s life.

As a 529 plan administrator, I’m going to continue spreading the good word of 529 plans around the state of Washington and keep fighting in our quest to significantly reduce the $1.6 trillion student debt problem. Together we can start a new chapter for our children’s futures by providing opportunity for them beginning with contributions to college savings accounts and of course, letting hope lead the way.

About the Author

Luke Minor is the Director of Washington State’s College Savings Plans (WA529), which include the GET Prepaid Tuition Program and the DreamAhead College Investment Plan. Since 1998, tens of thousands of students have used more than $1.4 billion of their WA529 savings to attend colleges in all 50 states and at least 15 foreign countries. In his free time, Luke enjoys getting outside with his wife, newborn daughter, and two wild dogs.

 

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