September is College Savings Month

Celebrate with Virginia529!

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Virginia529 helps families turn dreams into reality!

Do you have a Virginia529 success story?

Congratulations to Diane Alejandro, grand prize winner of the Turning Dreams into Reality contest!

We asked past and present Virginia529 account owners to share stories of how Virginia529 is helping them turn their dreams into realities and they delivered!

Diane Alejandro, mother to sixteen–year–old twins Joseph and Marien, uses Virginia529 inVEST to save for her future double college tuition bill, calling the effort “a huge success.” Diane’s story earned her the top prize, a $2,529 contribution. Congratulations, Diane!

In addition, three entries earned a $529 contribution. Congratulations to honorable mention winners Leslie Croson of Centreville, Samuel Brott of Fairfax and Karen Cotto of Alexandria.

Read all the winning entries below.

Grand Prize: Double the Savings

Diane Alejandro, Fairfax


Early in my pregnancy, I went to the doctor concerned that something was wrong. “No worries,” said the doctor, “they both look just fine.” “They???” said my husband and I, with relief, awe and a bit of trepidation. And so began our twins adventure. It has been wonderful, exciting, crazy at times, and doubly expensive. Sixteen plus years later, with Joseph and Marien now juniors in high school, we are facing a new challenge: college for two. We started funding their Virginia [inVEST] accounts when they were two years old (everything seems to revolve around twos in our house), with a jump start from my mother before she passed away. We make a regular monthly contribution, and put in more when possible. Could we put them both through Harvard at full fare rates? No. But we have saved enough--and earned enough on the investments tax free––to afford to send them to excellent colleges, in state or elsewhere. It still will cost us something (unless they get those scholarships we dream about). But we won’t have to empty our retirement funds and work until we are 85 to pay for it. And our children won’t be paying off student loans until they are old enough to be sending their own kids through college. That makes our [inVEST] strategy a huge success. Now, we just have to worry about our kids’ grades, SAT scores, staying out of trouble and driving safely....”

Honorable Mention: Fulfilling a Promise

Leslie Croson, Centreville


Twenty years ago on the night before my father passed away we talked and reminisced. We had a wonderful conversation and we laughed and we cried. As we were saying our good–byes for the last time Daddy stopped me and said one of his biggest regrets was that he had not sent one of his five children to college. I reminded him he had given us all so much more by teaching us right from wrong and showing us every day of his life what it is to have a good work ethic. With the tools he had given me growing up I made a promise to him then and there that his two grandsons would go to college. With hard work, focus, and a lot of sacrifice my two sons were the first to attend and graduate from college on both sides of the family. Today we are grandma & grandpa and I pray a new tradition has started and will stay intact for generations to come. We have four little granddaughters and we are only able to save $25.00 a month for each. Our dream is that all four will be able to attend college someday. This would be our legacy and a tribute to my father to leave our granddaughters with enough money for each to go to college when the time comes. That is how the Virginia 529 is helping to make our dream and our loved ones dreams come true.”

Honorable Mention: Financial Security Leads to Happiness

Samuel Brott, Fairfax


How is the Virginia529 helping my dreams come true? To be honest, it is in every way possible. My mom began teaching me how to save money from the moment I even knew what a dollar was. I was aware of my personal bank account from about the time I started kindergarten, and by then I already knew that saving was important. Not only could you get a free lollipop by going to the bank, but also you could make free money by allowing the bank to manage your funds and accruing interest. The most important way to save and invest though, as I have quickly learned, is via the Virginia529. While many of my friends are paying for their own college tuitions and working hard jobs to pay their loans back, I can just be happy and thankful for my mom’s great sense of savings and investment. The Virginia529 is without a doubt the best investment any parent could make. I am currently a third year student at the University of Virginia, one of Virginia’s finest universities, and I am loving every moment that I spend here. Most importantly, I can wake up every day, go to class, do my homework, and enjoy the company of my friends knowing that I am financially secure and don’t have to pay back student loans. People say that money can’t buy happiness, but the Virginia529 is proof that if money is well managed, it can definitely increase that happiness.”

Honorable Mention: Creating a Different Future

Karen Cotto, Alexandria


1997...I was 18 and starting my first year of college at Virginia Commonwealth University. I am a first generation American and an only child of parents who had less than a high school education level. My parents were able to pay for my first semester tuition with the savings they earned as cooks. I should have been very proud and excited, was I...far from it. I was 7 months pregnant and hiding my pregnancy from my parents. Eventually, I dropped out of college, became a single mother and worked an entry level job. When my daughter was 4 years old, my aunt told me about Virgina529. I remember her telling me “I know its tough now, but just a few hundred dollars each month will help her and you in the future.” I was hesitant and was afraid to commit to paying a bill for 14 years, though it was an felt like a bill. I realized by opening a Virginia529 savings account, it would secure a future for her. People always told me that the best years of their life were their college days, so many times after hearing that, I wish I could say “me too!” Thanks to the Virginia529 college savings account, my daughter will be able to enjoy the best years of her life and this is one thing I could give her that I wasn’t able to give to myself. It will turn her hopes and dreams into reality.”

Contest Rules and Terms and Conditions

No Purchase Necessary to Enter to Win.

About Virginia529

The Virginia College Savings PlanSM (Virginia529SM), an independent state agency with principal office located at 9001 Arboretum Parkway, North Chesterfield, VA 23236 is sponsoring a giveaway of one $2,529 contribution and two $529 contributions to new or existing Virginia529 inVESTSM accounts. Virginia529 is an Internal Revenue Code Section 529 qualified tuition program. A Section 529 college savings account is an individual savings account intended specifically for the payment of qualified higher education expenses for a designated beneficiary. Customers are encouraged to obtain all enrollment materials, including the Program Description, by calling 1-888-567-0540 or by downloading them from, and to read them carefully before investing. For residents of states other than Virginia: your state or the beneficiary’s state of residence (if different) may sponsor a 529 plan that offers state income tax or other benefits not available to you through the Virginia529.


Entrant must be a current or past Virginia529 account owner or beneficiary age 18 or up.


Entrant should share how a Virginia529 college savings account (inVEST, Virginia529 prePAIDSM, CollegeAmerica®, or CollegeWealth®) is helping or has helped you or the person you are saving for turn dreams into reality. Submission must be 250 words or less, nonfiction and in English and must be the original, nonpublished work of the entrant. One entry per person.


Entries will be judged by Virginia529 staff based on the following criteria:

  • Appropriateness to contest theme (25 percent)
  • Creativity/Originality (50 percent)
  • Use of language (25 percent)


Entries will be accepted from 12:01 a.m. (ET) August 28, 2013 through 11:59 p.m. (ET) October 6, 2013 through the contest entry portal found at The online entry portal is the only way to enter the contest. Judging will begin October 7, 2013 and determination of winners will be complete on or about October 18, 2013. Winners will be notified by telephone at the number provided at entry and announced publicly by October 31, 2013. Should the winner not be able to be reached at the number provided, Virginia529 shall, in its sole discretion, choose another winner.


One winner will be awarded a grand prize of one $2,529 contribution to a new or existing Virginia529 inVEST account. Two runner–up winners will each be awarded a prize of one $529 contribution to a new or existing Virginia529 inVEST account. Winners shall be chosen by Virginia529 in its sole discretion and its decisions are final.

Terms and Conditions

By entering and participating in the Contest, each entrant fully and unconditionally agrees to and accepts the following Contest Terms & Conditions which are final and binding in all matters related to the Contest:

  1. Submitted entries become the property of Virginia529. Virginia529 shall also own the copyright to each submitted entry.
  2. Entrants agree to the use of their essays (or any portion thereof), their first name, and/or statements for Virginia529’s advertising, publication, promotional, or other purposes in any medium throughout the world in perpetuity regardless of whether they are selected as a winner and without further consideration or consent .
  3. Winner will be the owner of the account and will be solely responsible for any applicable local, state and federal taxes on the prize. By entering the contest, entrant agrees that they are eligible to be the account owner. Please see the inVEST Program Description for details.
  4. Each winner agrees to the use of his or her full name, photograph, likeness, essay (or any portion thereof), statements, testimonials, text and/or sound or video recording of him or her for advertising, promotional, or any other purposes in any medium throughout the world in perpetuity without additional compensation or consent unless required by law. Winner agrees to execute a publicity release. Each winner also agrees to the use of the beneficiary’s name for Virginia529’s marketing and public relations purposes without compensation. Beneficiary will execute a publicity release if over 18 years old.
  5. Prize may not be redeemed for cash and no exchanges or substitutions are permitted.
  6. In no event will Virginia529 be responsible or liable for any damages or losses of any kind for lost, late, misdirected, incomplete, or invalid entries. Virginia529 is not responsible for printing or typographical errors in any Contest–related materials nor is it responsible for the inability of a person to enter their essay online in the manner described, whatever the reason.
  7. Virginia529 will be collecting personal data about entrants in accordance with its Privacy Policy. Virginia529’s Privacy Policy is available at and entrant is responsible for reviewing a copy of the Privacy Policy. By participating in the Contest and providing their email address and other personal information, entrants hereby agree to Virginia529’s collection and use of their personal information and acknowledge that they have read and accepted Virginia529’s Privacy Policy.
  8. If, in Virginia529’s sole discretion, winner is found to be ineligible or not in compliance with these Contest Terms & Conditions or Contest eligibility, winner will be disqualified and an alternate winner will be selected by Virginia529 in its sole discretion. Interpretation of and determinations on the correct application of these Contest Terms & Conditions shall be made by Virginia529 in its sole discretion and its decisions regarding these matters shall be final. In no event will Virginia529 be responsible or liable for any damages or losses of any kind should winner be found ineligible.
  9. By participating in the Contest, each entrant agrees to indemnify, hold harmless, and waive any claims against Virginia529 and/or the Commonwealth of Virginia, and any of the affiliates, employees, directors, officers, agents, representatives, and assigns of Virginia529 and/or the Commonwealth of Virginia , made by winners, entrants, or any other third parties arising directly or indirectly out of, or in any way connected with, this Contest or the prizes awarded in connection therewith.
  10. By participating in the Contest, each entrant agrees that the contest shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia without regard to any choice of law or conflict of law rules. Entrant agrees that venue for any litigation arising out of or related to this Contest or these Contest Terms & Conditions shall be in state court located in Chesterfield, Virginia.
  11. This Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws. Void where prohibited.
  12. Employees of Virginia529 and their immediate family members (spouse; parents, siblings, children, grandchildren and their spouses; and in-laws) are not eligible to participate.

What is College Savings Month?

Celebrate all year long!

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