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Vivek Malek Visits SEMO To Promote the MOST 529 Program

Missouri State Treasurer Vivek Malek starts his talk about the MOST 529 program with the SEMO board of governors.
Lily Niebrugge/Southeast Arrow
Lily Niebrugge/Southeast Arrow
Missouri State Treasurer Vivek Malek starts his talk about the MOST 529 program with the SEMO board of governors.

Missouri State Treasurer Vivek Malek visited SEMO’s board of governors on March 19 on his statewide tour to educate about the MOST 529 savings plan.

Malek is traveling across the state of Missouri to educate colleges and universities on the MOST 529 program and how it can benefit students. Malek was sworn in as Missouri State Treasurer in January of 2023.

“These past three years have been a great journey for me, both intellectually and visually, with my professional life, in practice, and now in a public service office,” said Malek.

The MOST 529 savings plan is a program designed to help families save money for their future education needs. It is a tax-advantaged program, which means families won’t pay taxes on the money in the 529 account and can also earn tax benefits like tax deductions.

The MOST 529 website states that the plan can not only be used for colleges or universities but also kindergarten through 12th-grade education, trade or vocational schools, post-graduate education, and more.

“As kids grow up, their dreams can change. The child who wanted to be a veterinarian at age five may end up in trade school later on. Either way, her MOST 529 account will be there, because it covers a lot more than tuition at a lot more places than just colleges,” the MOST 529 website stated.

Something that sets the MOST 529 program apart from others is its benefits. MOST 529 offers a benefits plan called UPromise Rewards.

The UPromise website states this is a free account that gives you rewards for everyday things you spend money on. Once your rewards account reaches $50, it transfers into your 529 account.

“With UPromise, members can seamlessly earn cash back rewards towards any life goal. Whether it's groceries, clothing, travel, or dining out, every transaction can contribute to your financial future,” the UPromise website stated.

Another benefit of this plan is a new change to how families can use their leftover funds.

Ashley Richardson-Bell, Institution and Relationship Manager for a census government savings program partnered with the Missouri State Treasury office, said families can transfer funds into a Roth IRA retirement account.

“New in 2024, something that's come into place with the secure 2.0 egg is that leftover funds can be rolled over to a Roth IRA account after it’s been in existence for 15 years, and that's a maximum of $35,000,” Richardson-Bell said.

Richardson-Bell also stated that students from out of state can benefit from this program. However, this doesn’t apply to students who are not citizens of the United States.

“You don’t have to be a resident of the state to take part in the MOST 529 plan. We always tell anyone to check with the state they reside in. However, you can always invest in a MOST 529,” Richardson-Bell said.

SEMO admissions works to counsel families on paying for college.

Director of Admissions Lenell Hahn said the MOST 529 program is a great program for families to utilize.

“It’s so flexible as far as the post-secondary opportunities that you can use it towards, the fact that it can even be used for technical, two-year, four-year, even graduate school is great,” said Hahn.

This story was originally published by the Southeast Arrow, a news partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Note: On March 25, Vivek Malek announced his candidacy for a full term as State Treasurer.