State Treasurer Eric Schmitt unveils top 10 Missouri counties for college savings

Families in Marion County are taking advantage of a state program to help save for college. In fact, Marion County is just about the best place in the state for participation in the MOST 529 College Savings Plan, according to the office of Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt.

Anyone can open a MOST 529 account and assign a beneficiary. A 529 account is a type of investment account you can use for higher-education savings, which is usually sponsored by an individual state.

State data shows Marion County has a MOST participation rate of 4.348 percent, the second highest in the state by percentage of people per county. Only St. Louis County, with its nearly one million residents, has a higher participation rate.

Ralls County has a 0.639 percent participation rate, while Monroe and Pike Counties have participation rates of 1.131 and 0.805 percent respectively.

The money accrued from the account can be used to pay for tuition, room and board, books, equipment and more.

Earnings grown are federally tax-deferred, qualified withdrawals are tax-free, and Missouri participants have other tax benefits as well.

Earlier in September, which is National College Savings Month, Schmitt announced a revamped outreach effort for the MOST 529 program aimed at driving greater participation and awareness. The plan offers federal and state tax benefits, low costs and flexible ways to contribute. There are currently more than 150,000 active MOST accounts with around $2.8 billion in total assets.

“We’re working hard to get as many Missourians enrolled in the MOST 529 program as possible and this is one way for us to track our progress,” Schmitt said.

For more information on the MOST 529 program, visit missourimost.org .