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CSI's 50th Annual Commencement

Graduates head to the gym during the College of Southern Idaho’s 50th annual commencement Friday, May 13, 2016, at CSI in Twin Falls.

BOISE — IDeal, Idaho’s 529 college savings program, is celebrating its 15-year anniversary.

Created by the Idaho legislature and launched in 2001, the state-sponsored program has helped more than 37,500 families, the program announced Tuesday.

In total, there’s 1,842 accounts held in south-central Idaho. Here’s the breakdown by county: 718 in Twin Falls County, 117 in Jerome County, 15 in Lincoln County, 664 in Blaine County, six in Camas County, 169 in Cassia County, 81 in Gooding County and 72 in Minidoka County.

IDeal also offers a state tax deduction ($4,000 for single filers and $8,000 for married filers), and earnings are not subject to state or federal tax if used on qualified expenses.

IDeal allows its account owners’ friends and family to contribute directly to the IDeal account. To date, $3.9 million has been gifted to IDeal beneficiaries.

Four in 10 IDeal accounts are opened because of the birth of a child. The average age of an IDeal beneficiary is 13 years old.

Studies show students with college savings accounts are up to seven times more likely to go on to higher education if they own a college savings account— regardless of the account balance.

The top 10 universities where IDeal beneficiaries use their funds are: University of Idaho, Boise State University, University of Puget Sound, Gonzaga University, College of Idaho, Idaho State University, Willamette University, Northwest Nazarene University, Montana State University and Santa Clara University.

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