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Embattled Maryland 529 executives face more tough questions from lawmakers

WBFF Baltimore 1/25/2023 Rebecca Pryor
© Provided by WBFF Baltimore

Maryland 529 executives are finding themselves in the hot seat once again with parents and lawmakers.

Last week, members of the house drilled Maryland 529 Executive Director Anthony Savia and then board chair Peter Tsirigotis with questions and criticism.

The next day, Tsirigotis resigned. Sending Savia to face similar remarks from the Senate on Tuesday with interim board chair Geoffrey Newman.

The meetings come as parents plead with lawmakers to help them reclaim money they say is missing from their child’s college funds.

“It’s scary,” said account holder Linda Epstein, “My account right now says zero.”

Epstein says the long-term investment she made in Maryland 529’s prepaid plan has since left her and hundreds of others empty-handed.

“I could have just taken this full lump sum of money, put it in my mattress, and I would have had the same amount of money right now,” she said.

RELATED | "It's disgraceful" | Lawmakers demand answers from Maryland 529 administrators

Last year, she was told her son’s college savings account had accrued about $90,000 worth of interest. All of which, has disappeared under Maryland 529’s new interest calculation formula.

During the meeting, Savia explained the interest parents thought they had accrued was a math mistake made in November of 2021. A mistake that wouldn’t be caught until April of 2022. From there, instead of informing parents their interest was inaccurately inflated, the agency froze the funds. In doing so they also assured parents their money wouldn’t be lost, only delayed.

Left in the dark for over a year, parents were forced to pick schools and make important financial decisions for their future based on the allegedly miscalculated statements they were previously sent.

Despite admitting communication could have been better, Savia says legally the agency is not required to pay for its error.

“I would have had that money in a different plan,” said Epstein, “Now I don't have the money.”

The meeting ended with no timeline in place for when the frozen funds will be released or how lawmakers plan to hold the agency accountable for its mistake.

Embattled Maryland 529 executives face more tough questions from lawmakers
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