State Treasurer Dawn Sass has declared Oct. 7 the Wisconsin Higher Education Day to raise awareness on higher education issues throughout the state.

Throughout the state, events will be held to help parents, students and community members learn about the importance of higher education. The events will provide guests with financing information for students applying to colleges and universities as well as those already enrolled in classes. 

Some colleges, like Marquette University, plan to have community open houses, and members of the state government have also expressed interest in participating.

“Higher education is an important concern for all community members,” said Megan Perkins, director of the Wisconsin College Savings Plan. “More people in college help to create a better, stronger state.” 

Secretary of State Doug LaFollette will be visiting Madison-area high schools to help students get excited about higher education. Sass will launch contests around the state for elementary, middle and high school students to generate enthusiasm about higher education at a younger age. 

Besides traveling around Wisconsin, state constitutional officers will sign a proclamation expressing their dedication to the day. 

“The day unites all of the state constitutional officers and brings their focus to higher education for a single day,” Perkins said. 

Although the exact details of the Oct. 7 programs are still in the works, programs will most likely be held on the University of Wisconsin campus for students and to provide them with information on how to continue financing their education. 

In today’s society, the value of a higher education is continually increasing, Perkins said. 

“We live in a world of change; the 21st century is filled with uncharted waters. Higher education helps prepare people to adopt to rapid change,” said Clifton Conrad, a UW professor of higher education and educational leadership. “We need to provide our students with communication skills as well as critical thinking skills. We live in an intercultural world, and we’ve got to learn to cross cultural boundaries.” 

This is the third year the state of Wisconsin has held Higher Education Day. 

Along with raising awareness about higher education, the day aims to provide students, parents and community members with information about the EdVest Program. 

EdVest, also known as the 529 Program, is a nationwide investment program administered by the Wisconsin State Treasure’s Office. With this program, Wisconsin residents can help save money to pay for their own higher education or the education of a family member. 

The money invested in EdVest accounts can be used for any school-related expense. For Wisconsin residents, contributions of up to $3,000 per dependent, grandchild, great-grandchild, niece or nephew per tax year are deductible from state income taxes. The money can then be used at any higher education institution nationwide.

“We’ve had a great day the last two years, and we’re hoping to build up on that again this year,” Perkins said. “We hope that the excitement and awareness from this one day will last all year long.”