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Tennessee Treasury’s TNStars 529 College Savings Program awards $5,000 Scholarship to Dayton 5th-grader
Shelli King

Tennessee Treasury’s TNStars 529 College Savings Program awards $5,000 Scholarship to Dayton 5th-grader

Nashville, TN – State Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr., along with Senator Ken Yager and Representative Ron Travis, and representatives from Rhea County Schools recently recognized 10-year-old Ashlyn Gunter, of Dayton, as the winner of TNStars’ $5,000 Holiday Scholarship Giveaway.

During the month of December, TNStars® College Savings 529 Program promoted a scholarship giveaway contest, encouraging Tennessee families to enter their children to win a $5,000 college scholarship. Ashlyn, one of more than 2,400 entrants across the state, was randomly selected as the winner.

Ashlyn is a fifth-grade student at Graysville Elementary School. Her career goal is to become an engineer. Ashlyn enjoys playing sports, including soccer, baseball, dance, bowling and volleyball. She also enjoys being outside, drawing, and painting pictures.

The Gunters accompanied their daughter, Ashlyn, at a special presentation at Graysville Elementary, where Treasurer Lillard awarded Ashlyn with a $5,000 check. They were joined by Representative Travis, whose legislative district includes Ashlyn’s hometown; Jessie Messimer and Lori Delak, Assistant Directors of Rhea County Schools; and James Harrison, Principal of Graysville Elementary.

“Research shows that students who save money for college are seven times more likely to attend college” Sen. Yager said. “In Tennessee, we want every student to pursue post-secondary education, whether that’s at a university, community college, or college of applied technology, to best prepare them to enter the workplace.”

Ashlyn’s $5,000 prize will be deposited into a TNStars account. These funds, along with any additional amounts contributed to it, can be used to cover her future post-secondary education expenses, ranging from tuition and housing to books, computers and more.

"It's important to start saving early so that compounding interest works for you rather than against you with student loans," Treasurer Lillard said.

Treasurer Lillard noted that national student loan debt has surpassed $1.5 trillion. One way to reduce this debt is to set children on a path to success by opening a college savings account. The TNStars College Savings 529 Program was created to encourage Tennessee families to save and invest for the future cost of higher education in a tax-advantaged way. Families can open an account with as little as $25 to start.

“I am proud to be here to congratulate Ashlyn,” Rep. Travis said. “You have an excellent opportunity to get a great education in Rhea County. And we hope this scholarship will put you and your family on a solid track toward the college savings you will need to pursue your career dreams.”

While speaking to both Ashlyn and the fifth-grade class of Graysville Elementary, Principal Harrison said “Education is important. Education gives you the freedom to make choices in life.”  

About TNStars:
TNStars is designed to give Tennessee families high-quality investment options at a low cost to help them put aside money for higher education expenses. Tennesseans can invest directly with the program and funds can be withdrawn tax-free from a TNStars account as long as it is used for qualified higher education expenses. For more information about the TNStars College Savings 529 program, visit

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