Alaska 529 announces 2019 scholarship account winner

A lucky Soldotna woman received an early birthday surprise-- a $25,000 scholarship. 

Marta Taylor thought that she was having lunch with her husband and daughter at Froso's Family Dining to celebrate her birthday. She didn’t know that Lael Oldmixon and Buffy Kuiper from Alaska 529 (formerly the UA College Savings Plan) had flown down from Fairbanks and were waiting to surprise her with a giant check and a birthday cake.  

Taylor was selected in a random drawing as the winner of a $25,000 scholarship from Alaska 529’s Scholarship Account Giveaway. This is the first time she checked the box on her PFD application to contribute half of her PFD to an Alaska 529 education savings account.

Taylor is currently taking online classes to obtain her degree in computer science and software engineering. She earned a master’s degree in engineering earlier in life.

“When I got my master’s degree in engineering, I worked my way through school and borrowed student loans and scraped my way through,” said Taylor in an interview with Peninsula Clarion reporter Brian Mazurek who attended the luncheon. “So, to have this to give to my daughter is just such a gift.”

Taylor is giving the $25,000 scholarship to her daughter, Ella Czarnezki, who is in 10th grade at River City Academy and plans to attend college in a few years.

“This is crazy … that’s a lot of money,” Taylor said. “An education is such a gift, and to have money to put towards it, in Ella’s case, is just incredible. I’m thrilled.”

Alaska 529 was established in 2001 to encourage individuals to save for college. Individuals enrolled in Alaska 529 may use their account to pay for education expenses at any eligible college, university, or vocational/technical school in Alaska or the Lower 48 or K-12 tuition at public, private or religious schools. Families can open one of the tax-advantaged accounts with their PFD contribution, or with as little as $25 a month. 

Since 2008, the Education Trust of Alaska has drawn one winner annually from among the thousands of Alaskans who checked the box to deposit at least half of their PFD into an Alaska 529 savings account. The promotion provides Alaska families an extra incentive to save their PFD for education expenses. This year, 13,056 applicants entered the drawing. 

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