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Education savings plan hits $50m milestone

Savings plan: George Hopkinson, president of Knowledge First Financial, left, with Mauline Segre-Lyon, manager, international business at Heritage Educations Funds International, and Gerry Swan, agency manager at Heritage Agency (Bermuda) (Photograph by Scott Neil)

A savings plan that helps parents to save for their children’s postsecondary education costs has now paid out $50 million to families in Bermuda.

Having reached that milestone, Heritage Education Funds International hopes to increase awareness of the benefits of having the structured savings scheme — the Heritage Education Savings Plan.

The plan gives parents a route to financially support their children when the time comes for them to pursue higher education at institutions around the world.

There is strong demand for the savings service. From the start of 2014 to the end of 2017, Heritage sold more than 800 of its plans.

Gerry Swan, agency manager at Heritage Agency (Bermuda) Ltd, noted that it is no longer only parents who are investing for their children’s future educational needs — some grandparents are also getting involved.

The savings are held for a period of time and are invested in a number of ways, such as in government bonds.

A child born this year could end up needing as much as $100,0000 to secure a postsecondary education in the Caribbean, and possibly more depending on the programme and school location.

“We recommend parents start saving for their children’s college or university education as soon as they are able,” Mr Swan said.

“We want more families to be aware of the Heritage International Scholarship Trust Plan and, more importantly, we want to make our education savings plan available to more parents and grandparents allowing them the comfort of knowing that through proper planning and prudent investing, funds will be there when they need it most.”

The Heritage Education Savings Plan, created in 1988, has paid out $50.1 million to families in Bermuda in savings and educational assistance payments, at a rate of 6.2 per cent. The plan varies in length of enrolment time, although it is common for a savings plan to start when a child is young, and to be withdrawn when they complete their secondary education.

Mr Swan said it was rewarding to hear success stories from past participants who have gone on to careers such as aircraft pilot, doctor and historian, having had their higher education expenses met as a result of their families using the education savings plans.

At the start of the year, Toronto-based Heritage Education Funds was acquired by Knowledge First Financial Inc, which is also Canadian-based.

The education savings plan is sponsored by The Heritage International Scholarship Trust Foundation, and both it and the Knowledge First Foundation are not-for-profit organisations. This brings additional benefits, as any excess revenue can be reinvested in the company, set aside for acquisitions, or given back to the community in the form of plan “top-ups” or scholarships.

George Hopkinson, president of Knowledge First Financial, said that since 2007 an estimated $50 million has been given back in various ways, and this figure is separate from the total the savings plan has paid out to subscribers during the past three decades.

During a visit to Bermuda, Mr Hopkinson told The Royal Gazette that the integration of Knowledge and Heritage had “gone better than expected”. It has brought Knowledge to the international market, as Heritage has clients in Bermuda and a number of Caribbean countries.

Knowledge and Heritage each have 50 years of experience in helping families save for postsecondary education for their children. Knowledge First Financial is the biggest provider of registered education savings plans in Canada, with $6.2 billion in assets under management.

Mr Hopkinson said: “It is a privilege to continue to serve a community that is so dedicated t inspiring young people to realise the possibilities that come from a postsecondary education.

“Our experience shows how funding makes a huge difference to students and we are committed to continue to serve this important need through peace-of-mind education saving solutions.”

When asked about the road Ahead for Knowledge and Heritage, Mr Hopkinson said: “We want to be the best in the space, and realise students’ opportunities through the plan.

“We want to continue adding value to our customers, to our products and give better customer service.”

On a personal note, he added: “I wake up every morning excited to be helping families save for their children’s education.”

More information on the education savings plans can be found at www.HeritageESP.com or by contacting the Heritage Agency (Bermuda) at 296-8528