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Family Spotlights

Dad’s Small Investment Earns $20,000 for College

Shegogue family on mountain overlook

“Wait, I have $20,000?!”

It’s not something you’d expect to hear from a nine-year-old, but it’s exactly what Dan Shegogue heard from his daughter Ella.

Dan had just told his two daughters, Ella, 9, and Anna, 12, he’d won Virginia529’s 529 Day sweepstakes, which awarded him $20,000 toward the new Invest529 account he’d opened for Ella. To qualify for the prize, Dan opened this account during the sweepstakes entry period in May and set up recurring bank debits of $25 per month to contribute to his account.

At first, he was shocked to learn he had won. After a few moments of disbelief (and his wife Michelle asking, “Is this real?”), he began processing what the prize meant to his family. It meant increased peace of mind, decreased future debt for them or their kids and, best of all, a sense of relief.

Dan and Michelle always knew that higher education would be a part of their daughters’ futures. “Our daughters know that higher education is an expectation,” Dan commented. “I love that the flexibility of 529 accounts will let my kids do more than college – trade school is an option.”

Knowing this, the Shegogues periodically saved for their girls’ education over the last few years. However, like many parents, they found it difficult to consistently prioritize it over life’s many other expenses.

Dan and Michelle feel this prize put them on the right path in their higher education savings journey. They plan to continue with automatic contributions of $25 per month, letting these small deposits grow along with their daughters, and to increase contributions in the future. “When you have something in a savings account, there’s always a motivation to see it grow faster,” Dan said.

The Shegogues enjoy the automated investment process. “The money’s taken out before we even see it … so we don’t even have a chance to miss it.”

At nine years old, Ella still has some time to decide on a lifelong career – though Dan believes that her love of finding bugs could very well lead to an entomology degree. Whatever she pursues, Dan and Michelle are happy knowing that their daughter’s savings are off to a great start.


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Resources to help you learn

Virginia529 offers free, in-person information sessions at locations across Virginia. These hour-long sessions highlight the program’s three plans, explain the benefits to account owners and give you the chance to get your questions answered. If you don’t live near one of our in-person sessions, Virginia529 offers online webinars where you can learn more from the comfort of your own home.