MONTPELIER -- Vermont's hospitals are joining the celebration of "529 Day" (5/29) encouraging parents to create 529 higher education savings plans for their children this month.

Partnering with the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan (VHEIP), participating hospitals will give the family of every baby born in May a newborn 'gift bag' containing a piggy bank and information on Vermont's tax-free 529 savings plans. In addition, the first baby born at a participating hospital on May 29 will receive $529 in a VHEIP savings account. The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) administers the plan.

Throughout the month of May, parents of every Vermont child under the age of 18 can also enter to win one of two $529 contributions to a VHEIP account. One boy and one girl will be selected to each receive a $529 contribution. Parents can enter to win at www.vheip.org. The two winning families will be selected by random drawing.

"We are delighted to be working with VSAC to celebrate the birth of new Vermonters and encourage families to start saving early for higher education," said Bea Grause, president and CEO of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. "Ensuring that Vermont remains a healthy place to raise a family is an all-encompassing effort that extends beyond our central focus of providing every Vermonter with high quality healthcare they can afford."

Grause also noted that hospitals are among the state's largest employers and are encouraging employees to take advantage of the savings plans.


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"We want to encourage parents to open a VHEIP account and get started early to save for college. If parents start saving through a VHEIP account when their child is young, they can reduce the financial burden of paying for college later," said Scott Giles, president and CEO of VSAC, which administers the state's 529 college savings plan. "The ideal time to begin saving is between birth and age 5 in order to allow your investment to build over time," he added. "We're grateful that Vermont's hospitals are joining in the effort to raise awareness of this important opportunity.

Also, parents of newborns can encourage family and friends to contribute to their child's VHEIP account through e-gifting. "Family and friends can make significant contributions to a child's college savings account over time through birthday, holiday and graduation gifts. E-gifting makes it easy to contribute to a VHEIP account online and loved ones will appreciate the valuable gift, which lasts a lifetime," Giles said.

Parents can set up a 529 college saving plan anytime online.

About VHEIP: The VHEIP 529 college savings plan was established in 1999 and is Vermont's only state-sponsored 529 plan. VHEIP is administered by the Vermont Student Assistance Corp (VSAC). and managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing Inc. For more information about VHEIP, visit www.vheip.org' or call the customer service center at 800-637-5860.

About VAHHS: The Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems works to achieve a financially sustainable, high quality, health care system accessible and affordable for all Vermonters. For more information, visit www.vahhs.org.