Path2College 529 Plan
Coweta first grader wins $1,529 for college
by W. Winston Skinner
Maddox Tomlinson’s favorite book is “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”
The homeschooled Coweta first grader’s love of reading has netted him $1,529 for college. Tomlinson was one of four regional winners in the Path2College 529 Plan’s Summer Reading Program Sweepstakes.
Tomlinson, his parents and older brother attended ceremonies honoring him in the meeting room at Coweta’s Central Library on Thursday at noon. Mitch Seabaugh, a Coweta resident and former state senator who is executive director of the state’s Path2College 529 Plan, presented an oversized check to the boy.
Seabaugh said he was thrilled when he realized Tomlinson, who was selected by a random drawing, was from Coweta. Thursday’s ceremony was an opportunity “to plant a seed for a future college graduate,” Seabaugh said.
He said when he learned Tomlinson was from Coweta, he thought, “Wow. I get to go home and give away money.”
Seabaugh told Tomlinson that going to college can enable him to get a job with “the opportunity to impact the lives of other individuals.”
“College savings are important to our family because we don't want our boys swamped with student loans to pay after college. We hope to help them out as much as we can,” said Audrey Tomlinson, Maddox’s mother. “This is an amazing opportunity to start building up that college fund. We are very excited.”
Maddox Tomlinson and his father, Danny Tomlinson, thanked Seabaugh for the college money at Thursday’s presentation.
Fizz•Boom, $ave for College, the summer program, also gives money to the libraries where winners entered the contest. The Coweta County Public Library System received $529, and Seabaugh presented an oversized check to Jimmy Bass, CPLS director, and to library trustees Karen Cope and Norma Haynes.
“Every summer we do a Summer Reading Program,” Bass said. “In June and July, we had over 45,000 visitors.” More than 105,000 items were checked out of the libraries.
Path2College was created under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service code, which allows states to have their own savings funds for college. Earnings from the program are tax-free, as are qualified withdrawals. Georgia taxpayers can also deduct up to $2,000 per year for contributions to the program.
Path2College is something “people can use as a tool to start savings for their loved ones for college,” Seabaugh said.
“Continued education after high school is essential for today’s kids, and we hope that parents will think about this cost and begin saving early and regularly to help them achieve their goals,” he said. “This partnership is designed to get families engaged in their kids’ education and to raise awareness about the need to build both a strong academic and financial foundation for children.”
Seabaugh said Path2College had been piggybacking its summer promotion on library reading programs for five years. During that time $33,000 has been placed in savings for future college students – with $15,000 to be given this year.
Libraries have also received $22,000 from the summer program.
Bass said CPLS staff worked to promote the Path2College summer effort. “I am so proud of the people who are on staff. We are blessed far more than people realize,” Haynes said.
“In an effort to reach even more families this year, for the first time, we had four regional winners in addition to our grand prize winner,” said Seabaugh. “It was a great way for us to reward children in every region of the state for their summer reading, while also raising awareness about college savings with their parents and grandparents.”
Grand prize winner was Molly Kate McDevitt of Warner Robins, who was awarded $5,529 for her college savings. Her library system, Houston County Public Libraries, was awarded $1,529.
In addition to Tomlinson and CPLS, regional winners were Lauren Atkinson of Smyrna and the Cobb County Public Library System, Alejandra Cerron-Palomino of Athens and the Athens Regional Library System and Ivan Seasholtz of Lake Park and the South Georgia Regional Library.
Bass said CPLS will use the $529 donation to purchase juvenile fiction to expand that collection. Seabaugh talked about Path2College when he spoke to the Newnan Rotary Club at Newnan Country Club a few weeks ago.