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The elected officials advised students on the importance of college savings accounts during an assembly.

State Treasurer Tobias Read and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici joined students at Brookwood Elementary School in Hillsboro on Tuesday, May 29, to talk about the importance of saving for college.STAFF PHOTO: OLIVIA SINGER - A group of students shared their interests and aspirations with the elected officials following Tuesday's assembly.

A group of sixth graders got the opportunity to hear from the two elected officials on May 29 during an assembly commemorating 'National 529 College Savings Plan Day' by learning about "529 savings plans," like the Oregon College Savings Plan.

So-called 529 plans, or qualified tuition plans, encourage young students to save for college. The savings plan gets its name from Section 529 in the Internal Revenue Code. The tax-free investments can be used for any college expenditure, including computers.

"Your future, the life that you want to build, is going to be connected with what you do in terms of education, after high school," said Read, a former Beaverton state representative who was elected as Oregon State Treasurer in 2016. "It is an amazing thing what even a little bit of savings can do to open up possibilities."

Both Read and Bonamici, a Beaverton Democrat who also serves as a leader of the Committee on Education and the Workforce in Congress, urged students to speak with their families about opening up a savings account sooner rather than later.

"Anyone who has a college savings account is twice as likely to expect to go to college, three times as likely to go to college, and four times as likely to graduate from college, regardless of how much is in the account," Read told the students during the assembly. "Will you help us by telling your parents what you're learning today and helping us to make sure that all of you have the opportunity to save for whatever comes after high school?"

Bonamici shared her own educational path with the students, suggesting how much easier it may have been had she opened a savings account at a young age.

"It's not too early to be thinking about your options, because if you and your family start saving even a little bit now, it's going to open up the opportunities for you so much more later, even if you decide to do something other than go straight to college," said Bonamici. "We want you to be prepared for whatever you decide to do."

A Glencoe High School student, Miguel Alvarez, also spoke to the students during Tuesday's assembly about his own experience in the Hillsboro School District's IGNiTE — Inspiring Growth Now in Teacher Education — program. Students who are aspiring educators are able to get hands-on teaching experience serving as mentors for youth in the community, while providing an opportunity for the district to "grow its own" next generation of educators. Alvarez hopes to be the first in his family to graduate from college, he said.

"I actually thought at your age I was going to become a professional soccer player, but I guess that didn't turn out that well," Alvarez laughed. "But what I currently want to do is become a teacher. I've always had a passion for kids. There are a lot of scholarships out there and just because you feel like you can't afford college, you shouldn't be discouraged."

By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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