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Sagicor plan invests in higher education

Published:Friday | October 14, 2016 | 10:00 AMJanelle Oswald

There is a new investment plan that assists parents with paying for their children's higher education. Known as the Sigma Educator Plan, Sagicor Investments has launched an affordable proposal to help conscientious, visionary investors to save for their children's future.

The Gleaner spoke to Brenda-Lee Martin, vice-president, asset management, about the plan.

"It is important that you have a financial plan in place for your child's education. The earlier you start, the less the financial burden will be at the point when your child is ready for university. The Sigma Educator, through its suite of offerings, provides an investment solution for everyone who wants to contribute to a child's future," said Martin.

A tax-free plan that pays a grant of up to 30 per cent of your investment, once your child is enrolled full-time in a tertiary institution, the Sigma Educator provides group life and group accidental death and dismemberment coverage, with entry minimums starting as low as J$500. It also offers tax-free benefits, once no withdrawals are made in the first five years.

Patrice Sutton, the first client who invested in a Sigma Educator plan, told The Gleaner, "The main reason I chose this plan was the opportunity it offered in preparing my child for life's journey. As an adult, I know how difficult life can be without proper financial and investment planning. I did not want my son to go through this."

Sutton added: "I also realised that taking advantage of the grant will also go a long way in covering the university costs down the line."

One of the attractive features about Sigma Educator Plan is that it is payable directly to a registered educational institution, locally or overseas. If the child does not attend university, the accumulated value of the plan will still be available for withdrawal, however, a grant will not be payable.

"The Sigma Educator Plan is intended to place a college education within the reach of all Jamaican children, said Martin.

"We want to make investing in each child's future accessible and affordable for all parents."

Checklist to plan for your children's education

1. Ask yourself what you want for your child. Saving for your children can help give them a great start in life. It's important for children to learn about money matters when they are young, and saving is an excellent habit to encourage in youngsters,even if they just start off with a savings bank.

2. Talk to your HR department. Many companies provide an education allowance for children, so make sure you are claiming yours.

3. Consider your child's needs at every age. Day care and nursery can be very expensive. Ensure you do some research to find the best option price wise that caters for the child's needs.

4. Plan for child's future past age 18. Will your child be going to university and do you hope they will excel and obtain a degree? As a parent, this is something you will need to fund, or a

student loan will have to be taken out.

5. Start early. If you plan ahead and start saving early, you will achieve the desired amount you need for further education with little worry. The earlier you start, the easier it will be.

6. Be realistic. Consult a financial planner and discuss what a sensible amount for you to save would be.

7. Look for a tax break. Find out if you can claim any tax exemptions for tuition fees paid.

8. Teach your children how to manage their finances. If children are going to university for the first time, they will need to know how to budget remember that young people's money habits are greatly influenced by their parents' and guardian's financial behaviour.

janelle.oswald@gleanerjm.com