Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP)

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Dearborn Heights Boy to Serve as Face of College Savings in Michigan in 2015

May 28, 2015

Carter Baldwin, 4, to star in Michigan Education Savings Program campaign

While watching television about a year ago, Carter Baldwin told his mother that he wanted to be “inside the TV.”

Now, 4-year-old Carter’s smiling face will be looking out at television viewers throughout the state this summer as he stars in a marketing campaign for the Michigan Education Savings Program, which is administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury.

The Dearborn Heights boy will appear in television, print and digital advertisements for MESP, and will grace the cover of the June issue of Metro Parent magazine.

And to top it off, MESP opened an account with a beginning balance of $1,529 in his name.

“I had started a small savings account for his college education but we hadn’t really given it much thought beyond that,” said Racquel Phillips, Carter’s mother.

Now, Phillips and Carter’s father, Timothy Waters-Baldwin, plan to encourage friends and family to contribute to the MESP account instead of shower Carter with toys on his birthday and other gift-giving occasions.

“His college education is a much better gift they can give to him,” Phillips said.

Carter earned the MESP account and his central role in the marketing campaign after winning a Metro Parent CoverKids Search contest sponsored by MESP.

He gained CoverKids status after a photo his mother submitted of him bearing a wisebeyond-his-years smirk was chosen from 3,000 other entrants by a panel of southeast Michigan photographers.

“He’s 4 going on 20,” Phillips joked. “He’s going to be so excited to see himself on TV and in the other MESP ads.”

Even before the ad campaign was launched, Carter enjoyed a taste of stardom. At the studio where the MESP commercial was filmed, Carter saw his face appear on a large monitor.

“He screamed so loud I thought he was hurt, but it turns out he was just extremely excited,” Phillips recalled with a laugh.

MESP Executive Director Robin Lott said the participation of an everyday child in MESP marketing materials is meant to serve as a fun way to draw attention to how higher education can help children achieve their dreams.

“We’re hopeful that making an actual Michigan child the focus of the campaign will help Michigan families relate to the importance of saving for college,” she said.

The amount of Carter’s new MESP account — $1,529 — is significant because MESP is what is known as a 529 plan, named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which created these types of savings plans.

Also, the contest was designed to coincide with 529 Day — May 29 — which was created to increase awareness about saving for college.

Carter’s selection as the face of college savings in Michigan is just the latest recent development for MESP. Earlier in May, SavingForCollege.com recognized MESP for producing the third-best investment performance among all direct-sold 529 college savings plans nationwide during the 12 months from April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015.

MESP also achieved the sixth-best three-year performance and fifth-ranked five-year performance, the website determined.

MESP is administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury, which chose TIAACREF Tuition Financing Inc. to manage the plan in November 2000. MESP now has more than 200,000 accounts with total assets exceeding $4 billion. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing Inc. is one of the nation’s largest 529 program managers and currently manages 11 state programs, including Michigan’s.

MESP is one of three Michigan Section 529 plans, all of which offer Michigan taxpayers a state income tax deduction on contributions and potential tax-free growth on any earnings if account proceeds are used to pay for qualified expenses. MESP can be used at any eligible college, university or trade school in the nation and some abroad for a variety of qualified expenses, including tuition, mandatory equipment, fees, certain room and board costs and books. Limitations apply. See the MESP Disclosure Booklet for details.

To learn more about MESP, visit MIsaves.com or call 877-861-6377.

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