'Tis the season ... to give the gift of education!

Written by
Emily Stetson

November 22, 2019


VSAC Gift of College gift card package

Do friends and family need gift ideas for the holidays? Put savings for college or training at the top of the wish list this year. With Vermont’s 529 college savings plan, you can give (and receive!) a gift that lasts far beyond the holiday season and makes a truly meaningful difference in a child’s future. Studies show that students with even small amounts of college savings are 3x more likely to pursue education after high school. And that means they’ll be more prepared with the degree or credentials they need for the jobs of tomorrow. 

“College savings accounts are a powerful tool,” said Scott Giles, president and CEO of the Vermont Student Assistance Corp., the state-appointed administrator of Vermont’s 529 college savings program, the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan. “We want to encourage families to save for college and other career training. VHEIP is a great place to start.”

Advantages of 529 plan savings

A 529 plan is an education savings plan designed to help families set aside funds for future college or training costs, with tax advantages to help make saving easier. The plans are named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which created these types of savings plans in 1996. The first accounts in VHEIP, Vermont’s official 529 savings plan, were created in 1999. Last year, Vermont students used more than $40 million to pay for their education expenses using VT 529 savings.

Saving for college now rather than waiting to borrow money later on is a smart decision for students and parents, and their family members. Every dollar saved has the opportunity to grow and reduce the interest owed on borrowed money. The flexibility of 529 plans enable the savings to be used to pay for tuition, room and board (both on and off campus), books, and many other costs of college or training. And whatever the age of your child or loved one, whether an infant or a teen—or even in high school or college—you can benefit now from federal and state tax advantages for 529 contributions and savings.

A gift for the kids. A VT tax credit for you.

The Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan is the only savings program that enables Vermont taxpayers to get a Vermont state income tax credit on annual contributions for education after high school. Deposits made into a VHEIP account by December 31 qualify for a 10% tax credit on contributions up to $2,500 per beneficiary per year ($5,000 if filing jointly) for 2019. That’s a Vermont tax credit of up to $250 (or $500 for joint taxpayers), per beneficiary per year. And contributions can grow tax-free, adding more to your savings.

With VHEIP, you can open an account with as little as $25, or give a gift of any amount. Learn more about all the ways to give a lasting gift with VHEIP.

New for 2019: VSAC Gift of College gift cards!

With VSAC’s Gift of College gift card, it’s now even easier to give (or ask for) the gift of education opportunity. VSAC is partnering with GiftofCollege.com, a registry for online gifts to 529 accounts. The new VSAC Gift of College gift cards are available at Vermont locations of Cumberland Farms and Kinney Drugs stores, making it easy to pick some up for the loved ones on your holiday lists.

Dog in graduation cap holding VSAC Gift of College gift card
Benji found the perfect gift – a VSAC Gift of College gift card. 

“There’s no greater gift than the gift of education,” said Scott Giles, VSAC president and CEO. “As family and friends shop for the special children in their lives, these gift cards offer an easy and convenient way to contribute to a college fund. And no other gift card gains value through the years.”

Give the gift of education this year with the Vermont 529 college savings plan, and encourage friends and family to contribute, too. Pick up some VSAC Gift of College cards for any occasion, add to an existing VHEIP account, or open a new account at vheip.org. Learn more about purchasing or redeeming a VSAC Gift of College gift card here.


Have a question about saving, planning, or paying for college or career training? Ask us! Find online info about saving for college, email us at info@vsac.org, or come see us Monday–Friday, 8:00 am–4:30 pm, at the VSAC Resource Center in Winooski.