Friday, April 18, 2014 · 4:47 p.m.
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Leaders with the Tennessee Treasury Department are offering state residents an incentive to participate in the TNStars College Savings 529 Program. 

Anyone who signs up for the program can get a $50 match from the Treasury Department for the first $50 they put in, according to a news release. 

“This is an easy way people can double their money while investing,” Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr. said in a prepared statement. “I hope this will give Tennesseans the encouragement they need to start accounts with TNStars on behalf of their children, grandchildren, other relatives or family friends."

Leaders with the Treasury Department estimate that college tuition and fees are increasing by at least 7 percent every year and said saving is "a must." 

TNStars is a college savings program that allows participants to choose from 15 investment options that range from conservative to aggressive. 

The plan offers low investment fees, according to a news release. 

Money earned on those investments can be withdrawn tax-free as long as it is used to pay for qualified educational expenses for the account's beneficiary. 

The funds can be used to pay for schooling anywhere from private universities to community colleges. 

According to the nonprofit organization American Student Assistance, nearly 20 million Americans go to college each year. 

Of that 20 million, about 12 million—60 percent—borrow yearly to cover costs. 

There are currently about 37 million student loan borrowers with outstanding college debt, according to American Student Assistance.  

"If account holders will commit to saving even small amounts of money on a regular basis, that will add up over time," Lillard said. "And providing the money needed to attend college can help our children build better futures—both for themselves and for our state.”

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