Investing In Children
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Policy Library

College Savings Accounts for Every Kid

A college savings account helps make college affordable without crushing debt. States from Nevada to Pennsylvania have been able to provide “seed” grants into a college savings account for every child using foundation or other private funding, helping young people across their states better afford college with little to no state costs. The College Savings Expansion Act helps students and families afford college by enabling these common-sense, cost-effective partnerships to expand college savings accounts.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island

In The News

“[A] package of cutting-edge programs [is] aimed at getting Pennsylvanians to save more — driven by behavioral finance insights. This includes investing $100 for every baby born or adopted in the state on or after Jan. 1, 2019, if it is used for higher education.”
“When you open a 529 college savings account for a kindergarten student, the account has the opportunity to earn interest and grow over the 13-year period before the child graduates from high school.”
“'A lot of people fall below the line when it comes to resources," said Josh Andrews, the financial advice director for education at USAA, a financial services firm that specializes in customers with a military connection. "There's just not any money left to fund a 529.'”

Partners

  • Families
  • Students
  • Universities
  • Charitable foundations
  • Early childhood and education advocates

Opposition

None noted
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FAQ

Who does this help?
College savings accounts like 529s reduce the burden of student debt and increase chances of attending and graduating college. This will help students, employers hungry for a well-educated workforce, and families who are helping the next generation get a degree.
Is this high-cost for my state?
No. The College Savings Expansion Act enables the seeding of college savings accounts for all kids with foundation or other private funds. The state’s role is to identify appropriate partners and coordinate the program through administrative systems that already exist in most states. And by increasing the population of college-educated residents, states invest in their own economic future as well.
Is this effective?
Yes - several studies have found that saving even less than $500 can triple the chance that some kids go to college — and quadruple their chance of graduating. The actual money for college tuition helps, but so does the knowledge that there are resources from the get go. And Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania have successfully found private grant partners.
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Model Policy

SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the STATE College Savings Expansion Act.

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
This act directs DEPARTMENT to pursue cost-effective programs to expand college savings accounts with foundation or other private funding.

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) It is the goal of STATE to expand access and use of college savings accounts which allow families to save for higher education and are proven to improve college matriculation, decrease debt, and help make college affordable.

(b) Accordingly, within 200 days of passage of this Act, DEPARTMENT is directed to expand access and use of college savings accounts in STATE by:
  • (i) Reviewing other state programs such as those in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts that are using private and foundation funding to seed college savings accounts for all children;
  • (ii) Evaluating what foundations or other private funders have funded such programs and contacting them and related organizations to evaluate options for seeding college savings accounts in STATE;
  • (iii) Ensuring appropriate consideration of the fees charged for management of college savings accounts and appropriately protect the assets families may contribute into such accounts;
  • (iv) Identifying at least two possible opportunities to establish universal seed funding of college savings accounts in state, and enacting such a program if DEPARTMENT is authorized to enact such a program and it meets the goals outlined in this Act, or else reporting to the Governor, Legislature, and publicly on its website what legislative or other steps are required to enact such a program;
  • (v) Evaluating whether STATE currently allows taxpayers to elect to contribute a portion of their tax refund automatically into college savings accounts and if not, what steps would be required to allow that; and
  • (vi) Reporting on its findings in each of the above areas within one year of passage of this Act to the Governor, Legislature, and publicly on DEPARTMENT’s website.

(c) Funds in accounts established or funded under this Act shall be used to fund higher education expenses.