Advantages to START saving for college

State wants families to know there are financial aid options

<p class="indent">Louisiana is making notable strides concerning student preparation for post-secondary education success. The state leads the nation in FAFSA completion growth compared with 2017 data and is ranked third in the nation for 2018 FAFSA completion.</p><p class="indent">According to this data tracked by the National College Access Network, about 30,000 Louisiana seniors plan to continue their education beyond high school.</p><p class="indent">“In Louisiana more students than ever before are graduating high school, earning high-value credentials, achieving collegegoing scores on the ACT and completing financial aid forms to fund post-secondary opportunities,” said State Superintendent John White in a news release.</p><p class="indent">But with changing requirements for TOPS, in addition to its ever-questioned existence, coupled with fears of being saddled with large sums of student loan debt post-graduation, very few families and individuals are taking advantage of money saving opportunities like Louisiana’s “529” College Saving Plan: Student Tuition Assistance and Revenue Trust.</p><p class="indent">The “START Saving Program” has been in existence since 1997 but according to Gus Wales, Public Information and Communications Director of the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, only 60,000 START accounts are currently active.</p><p class="indent">The “START Saving Program” boasts many advantages to participating individuals. Ten unique investment funds are offered to eligible individuals. The primary eligibility rule requires the account owner or named beneficiary to be a Louisiana resident.</p><p class="indent">Participants are able to save for any necessary college or technical school expense including “tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies and equipment required for enrollment by the college,” explained Wales.</p><p class="indent">No fees are charged to participants, and the minimum deposit amount is $10.</p><p class="indent">Participants are eligible for an income tax deduction for deposits up to $2,400 for single households and $4,800 for joint households.</p><p class="indent">The state will match up to 14 percent of deposits each year and because the START fund is an investment, accounts will accrue interest based on the market and nature of the account.</p><p class="indent">If a beneficiary does not plan to attend a post-secondary institution or has money left over in the account, the money can be transferred to a family member or refunded, minus any earned enhancements.</p><p class="indent">Wales noted many people are unaware of the START program because the state budget does not provide the entity with promotional funds. Therefore, many only hear of the account via word-of-mouth, social media and college events or fairs.</p><p class="indent"> </p>

<p class="indent">More information on the START Saving Program can be found at <a href="http://www.startsaving.la.gov" target="_blank"><span class="text_link link_wrap type_url" data-link-type="URL" data-link-target="http://www.startsaving.la.gov">www.startsaving.la.gov</span></a>

<strong>Participants are able to save for any necessary college or technical school expense including ‘tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies and equipment required for enrollment by the college.’</strong>

<strong>Gus Wales</strong>

Public Information and Communications Director of the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance

      fd33afbe-38e3-11e8-8535-7f2f715a50492018-04-05T18:00:00Zdeserving design,fbi,hypocorisms,wild about safety,leesville,vernon parish,public school teacher,special agent,james williams,federal bureau of investigation,rosepine elementary school,sheriff,social media,jeff goins,sam craft,leesville high school,terry jopling,teacher,florida,school district superintendent,school boardnews/local,newsTeachers on the learning end of safetyFBI agent offers tips on preparing for active shooter situationPLAN OF ACTIONPamela SleezerBeauregard and Vernon Parish Reporter https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/9/9d/d2d/99dd2d76-3a6c-11e7-b361-0bf4ce08a215.7222f7a7273cedc8f0b95aaa0666b97c.png<p class="p1">Special Agent Jeff Goins with the FBI’s Alexandria field office offered training to Vernon Parish teachers on Tuesday on active shooter scenarios. The forum was part of teachers inservice training that culminated this week before students returned from their spring break. </p>Pamela SleezerBeauregard and Vernon Parish Reporter
      https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/9/9d/d2d/99dd2d76-3a6c-11e7-b361-0bf4ce08a215.7222f7a7273cedc8f0b95aaa0666b97c.png

      <p class="p1">Teachers in Vernon Parish received specialized instruction on active shooter safety techniques on Tuesday from agents with the FBI’s Alexandria field office. 

      <p class="p1">Special Agent Jeff Goins, who himself is a Leesville High School alum, said his approach to the meeting was to provide the same advice he would provide to his own mother, a retired public school teacher. 

      <p class="p1">He said his strongest piece of advice to the teachers was to put themselves in a constant state of awareness with their surroundings, and to always make a conscious plan of action in case a violent event were to occur. 

      <p class="p1">“While today we are focusing on school campuses, what we’re discussing could happen just as easily in any public setting,” Goins said. 

      <p class="p1">He said that by constantly considering the many options before them, teachers would find themselves more prepared in an emergency situation, and thus far more likely to have a successful response to an active shooter incident. 

      {{tncms-inline content="&amp;lt;p class=&amp;quot;p1&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;strong&amp;gt;&amp;amp;lsquo;By thinking about what you should do now and in the coming days, and talking about it with your staff members, you&amp;amp;rsquo;re not going to freeze up.&amp;amp;rsquo;&amp;lt;/strong&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt; &amp;lt;p class=&amp;quot;p3&amp;quot;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;strong&amp;gt;Special Agent Jeff Goins&amp;lt;/strong&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt; &amp;lt;p class=&amp;quot;p4&amp;quot;&amp;gt;FBI&amp;amp;rsquo;s Alexandria field office&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;" id="275f7d19-fec3-4e0b-9908-17ee927e1e6b" style-type="quote" title="Pull Quote" type="relcontent"}}

      <p class="p1">“By thinking about what you should do now and in the coming days, and talking about it with your staff members, you’re not going to freeze up,” he said. 

      <p class="p1">Goins said one of the biggest problems in an active shooter situation is that victims nearby tend to go into a state of denial, and do not believe what is happening is real.

      <p class="p1">“When the shots ring out, you have to take action,” he told the teachers. “If you can hear the gunshots, you are in range of the gunshots.”

      <p class="p1">Goins also offered advice to teachers on how to target individuals on what he said could be on the path to violence. Because most school shootings are premeditated, he said many potential school shooters could possibly begin displaying signs days before an attack is made. He urged teachers to alert officials if they suspected a student was struggling in their personal lives. 

      <p class="p1">“Contact me, call Sheriff Sam Craft or call Leesville PD,” he said. “We can get involved and get these people off of that path, and the sooner the better.”

      <p class="p1">The seminar was part of the district’s final day of inservice training before students return from spring break, and Rosepine Elementary School teacher Terry Jopling said that she felt very positive about what she had learned. 

      <p class="p1">“We have had active shooter drills before, but today’s meeting was very different,” she said. “Today I felt like what I was learning was really catered to me and a classroom, and I learned a lot of things that I am going to take back with me. I am very grateful to the sheriff and the school board for providing this to us teachers.” 

      <p class="p1">School district Superintendent James Williams said the planning stages of Tuesday’s forum began the day after the tragic Florida school shooting on Feb. 14. 

      <p class="p1">On Feb. 22, authorities charged a Leesville teen with terrorizing after allegedly making threats of violence towards their school on social media. Craft said that while such incidents appear to have died down over the recent weeks, he was enthusiastic about providing thorough training to local teachers. 

      <p class="p1">“No one wants this training to have to be used one day, but we hope to provide teachers with the tools necessary to protect their students and themselves in a worst-case scenario,” Craft said. 

      <p class="p1"><strong>‘By thinking about what you should do now and in the coming days, and talking about it with your staff members, you’re not going to freeze up.’</strong>

      <p class="p3"><strong>Special Agent Jeff Goins</strong>

      <p class="p4">FBI’s Alexandria field office

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