COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's state-run college savings program saw a 16 percent increase in the amount of money invested last year.

State Treasurer Curtis Loftis said Tuesday that more than $36 million was put into the Future Scholar program in December, a 48 percent increase over December 2011. The program now has more than $1.6 billion invested.

Loftis says lower expenses and fees, combined with a lower minimum to invest and a marketing campaign helped fuel the growth of the 529 college savings program.

Future Scholar allows parents, relatives and friends to contribute tax-free money toward a child's college education. The money is invested and can be removed from the account without paying taxes to pay for college expenses.

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