Wisconsin College Savings Program Helping Students Achieve Their Educational Goals 

The Wisconsin College Savings Program is celebrating National Dairy Month by talking to students about how their background in agriculture is influencing their college and career plans. While some students grew up on a family farm, others cultivated this interest through extended family or extracurricular activities like FFA, 4-H, and showing at local fairs. Many students take that passion into their post-secondary education at post-secondary institutions that offer agricultural programs, whether at a university, technical college, or through an apprenticeship program.   

Jayden Rather – “Fairest of the Fair” 

The 2024 Waukesha County “Fairest of the Fair,” Jayden Rather, grew up showing beef and swine kept at her grandparents’ farm. A sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she is passionate about encouraging others to come to the fair and support local businesses at the fair’s Farmers’ Market. Jayden says the background in agriculture has helped her build character and develop skills to be a successful young adult. 

Jayden’s family began saving for her future education when she was young, something she says she is grateful for as it has helped relieve the stress of student loan borrowing. Her mother, Leslie Rather, shared that investing in her daughter’s future with an Edvest 529 account has been a wise way to help. “The goal is to come out of college debt-free,” which she says can be possible with contributions from parents, grandparents, and the student into her Edvest 529 account. In Jayden’s case, she contributed to her own Edvest 529 account using money she earned through selling animals she showed at the fair. 

And Mrs. Rather has advice for parents of young children thinking about saving for the cost of future education. “It is so important just to start small. It doesn’t have to be major contributions because it adds up over time.” 

Savings with Wisconsin’s Edvest 529 Plan 

Parents, grandparents, other family, and friends can help students achieve their dreams by establishing a 529 account to save for their future education. Contributions to an Edvest 529 plan are made post-tax, but account earnings grow tax-deferred and can be withdrawn tax-free at the state and federal level when paying for qualified higher education expenses, like tuition, room and board (housing and food), books, fees, supplies and more. Recent enhancements to Wisconsin’s 529 college savings plans make saving for a student’s future college and career training even more flexible and compelling, including an increase to tax-deductible amounts Wisconsin taxpayers may claim on contributions to an Edvest 529 plan. Regardless of account ownership, Wisconsin taxpayers who contribute to an Edvest 529 plan may claim up to a $5,000 tax deduction, per beneficiary they are saving for, on their state income taxes in the 2024 tax year. 

Young people in Wisconsin have many opportunities to develop their interests into a career in agriculture through post-secondary education. Wisconsin families and communities can encourage youth’s interest in agricultural careers by increasing their exposure to the many opportunities in this industry, showing them that there are post-secondary options that fit their interests, and saving for their future education. 

“Most people are thinking about higher education pretty broadly these days, and the nice thing about a 529 plan is its really flexible to match those post-secondary options that people might be thinking of,” Chelsea Wunnicke tells us who is apart of the Wisconsin College Saving Program. “It’s really that way to just help people get started.”