Gov. Bill Lee has issued a proclamation declaring September as College Savings Month in Tennessee.

As part of that proclamation, State Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. and the TNStars College Savings 529 Program are giving away three $529 scholarships this month.

The College Savings Month Proclamation states that the national student loan debt has surpassed $1.5 trillion.

One way families can help avoid this student loan debt is by opening a 529 college savings account.

The TNStars College Savings 529 Program was created to encourage Tennessee families to save and invest for the future cost of higher education in a tax-advantaged way. Families can open an account with a minimum of $25 to start.

Research shows that students with dedicated savings for college are approximately seven times more likely to attend college than children with no dedicated account.

“It’s important to start saving early, so that compounding interest works for you rather than against you with student loans,” Lillard said.

Money invested in a TNStars account grows tax-free when used for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, room and board, books, computers and more.

Tennessee residents age 21 and older can enter the scholarship giveaway online at TNStars.com/scholarship on behalf of a child 15 or under, now through Sept. 30. Winners will be announced on Oct. 1 and scholarship money will be deposited to a TNStars account.

TNStars is a program of the Tennessee Department of Treasury. To learn more about TNStars or to open an account, visit TNStars.com.

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