UA College Savings Plan announces $25,000 and $2,500 PFD scholarship account winners

by Michelle Saport  |   

Seven-year-old Warren Hayes of Eagle River was randomly selected to win a $25,000 scholarship account in the UA College Savings Plan and four more Alaskans won $2,500 scholarship accounts.

"All Permanent Fund Dividend applicants who answered 'yes' to question number six of their PFD application were automatically entered into the annual scholarship account drawing," said Lael Oldmixon, Executive Director of the UA College Savings Plan. The PFD check-off asks residents if they would like to automatically contribute half of their dividend to their UA

College Savings Plan account. She added, "It's a fun and easy way to incentivize saving for college. The added bonus for us is getting to tell the winners!"

Representatives of the Plan showed up at the homes of the Anchorage area winners to inform them of their winnings in person.

"I couldn't control my emotions," said Guy Hayes, father of Warren. "It was pure joy and such an unexpected gift. It is a game changer for our children's future." Warren is second of the family's three young sons. "The permanent fund dividend has always been a blessing for all of us and, like most Alaskans, we come to depend on it every year. Contributing any amount to the UA College Savings Plan just seemed like the right thing to do. If you truly want to save money for your kid's future, it doesn't get any easier than this."

When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Warren Hayes said he wants to be an engineer and has plans to build a tree house with his brother. He also really likes to eat pizza. In order to help him understand the value of $25,000, his parents attempted to explain it in terms of pizza. Warren's eyes got big when his mom told him how much pizza this amount could purchase.

The winners of the $2,500 scholarship accounts are: Miles Cates, Anchorage Sarah Stevens, Anchorage Kodi Richards, Sitka Ethan Oliver, Anchorage

The UA College Savings Plan has offered the scholarship account giveaway for the last five years. The scholarships are funded by the Education Trust of Alaska, which was established in 2001 to administer the UA College Savings Plan. The drawing aims to give Alaska families an extra incentive to save their Permanent Fund Dividends for higher education expenses. More than 12,800 residents contributed to the UA College Savings Plan through the PFD check-off this year, an increase of 700 people from the prior year. The plan has seen a 62 percent increase in contributors since 2009, before the giveaway began.

The Plan allows adult winners to reassign their winnings to a friend or family member. One of the $2,500 scholarship account winners, Sarah Stevens, assigned half of her winnings to each of her two children.

The UA College Savings Plan will offer the scholarship account giveaway again next year. The official application can be completed online or by visiting a distribution center. The application period runs Jan. 1 through March 31, 2015.

Beneficiaries in the Plan may use their funds to pay for education expenses at any eligible college, university, or vocational/technical school in Alaska or the Lower 48. Families can open a tax-advantaged account with their PFD contribution, or with as little as $25 a month.

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