State Treasurer Stacy Garrity says if you’re still on the fence about a gift for a child, she has one you should consider.

“The more money you save now, the less your child is going to have in student debt,” Garrity said, “So it’s never too early to starting saving and never too late to start saving.”

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One way to save for future education expenses is a PA 529 account. It can be used for four-year degrees, two-year degrees, community colleges, technical schools, qualified apprentice programs and even some K-12 expenses. And saving this way can come with some big benefits.

“The earnings are tax-free,” Garrity said. “The withdraws are tax-free. For Pennsylvania residents, it doesn’t affect your child’s ability to secure financial aid.”

Anyone can start a PA 529 account and now it’s easier than ever before.

“You can open an account with no deposit at all,” Garrity said. “And then minimum contributions are just a dollar. We made that change in September. And really the goal is to make it easy…for anybody to start up a 529 plan and contribute as little as you want.”

An added bonus; anyone born after January 1, 2019, can access a $100 starter deposit through a plan called Keystone Scholars that can be linked to a 529 account.

Kids might not get excited now about finding a 529 donation under the Christmas tree. However, Garrity says, they’ll thank you someday.

“Especially the little ones who already have so much under the tree,” she said. “It’s really an excellent gift that’s really gonna help somebody prepare for their future.”

All told there are 267,000 529 account holders in Pa. with total assets that just surpassed $7 billion. Donations can be made via check, online, or through an app.

For more information, click here.