New program helps families save for college |

New program helps families save for college

Bubba Brown

Parkites have a unique option to think about this holiday season as they consider the gifts they’ll give to loved ones.

A new gift program launched by the Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) is allowing people throughout the state to contribute to college savings plans rather than give traditional presents. Utah 529 college savings plans allow families to set up savings accounts for college that are exempt from state and federal taxes.

Heather Briley, financial aid advisor for Park City High School, said it’s an important option for local families to consider. Long after a toy would have been discarded or clothing outgrown, a contribution to a 529 plan can make a large difference in a student’s life.

"It’s obviously a great idea for the holidays," Briley said. "I mean, $50 in that makes a bigger difference than a $50 toy. Maybe a kid doesn’t quite get that, but the parent sure will."

Diane Johnson, UESP outreach manager, told The Park Record that the gift program was launched Nov. 12. More than 1,000 Utah families had set up accounts within one week. She said friends and family being able to easily contribute to a college fund can help lighten the load many parents feel when it comes to financing college.

"The earlier you start saving, the better," she said. "It gives you more opportunity to put funds away. It’s difficult to save for the entire cost of college for a family, especially if you have more than one child. Making it a family affair makes it a bit simpler."

For more information on the gifts and how to create an account, visit