Idaho college-savings investments grow by $47 million

BOISE — Investments in Idaho’s college-savings program grew by $47 million from September 2016 to September 2017.

IDeal, Idaho’s state-sponsored college-savings program, revealed the upswing in a recent yearend report on how families do — or don’t — save for college.

Improved 2017 market performance accounted for most of the increase, the report notes. However, a growing number of Idahoans opened new IDeal accounts. The number of IDeal accounts grew by about 800. This 3 percent increase is considerable, since many Idahoans used and closed their accounts throughout the year, the report states.

However, many Idahoans don’t know about financial benefits tied to the program. Eight of 10 Idaho parents and grandparents said they weren’t aware of available state tax deductions of up to $12,000, according to the report.

Participation varies greatly by region. For example, Southwest Idaho easily topped account ownership last year, with Ada County residents using $17.5 million for college-related expenses. By comparison, residents in East Idaho’s Bonneville County used just $1.6 million.

IDeal executive director Christine Stoll said the report comes amid growing concern locally and nationally about ballooning student-loan debt and increasing college tuition.

“Widespread reliance on student loans cannot be the status quo if we wish to sustain the work being done across our state right now to improve college-going rates,” Stoll said. “Long-term, families also need a financial tool over which they have more direct control, such as (IDeal).”

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IDeal is housed within the state treasurer’s office and is administered by the Idaho College Savings Program Board. Click here to learn more about the program.

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