A pilot College Savings Account (CSA) program for low-income residents was approved by the joint House and Senate conference committee today and is expected to be in the final state budget set to be voted on today by the full Legislature.
The appropriation was included in the Treasurer’s budget which began a first of its kind college savings program in Worcester.
This first-of-its-kind college financing plan in Massachusetts was welcome news at Inversant, a Boston-based non-profit that has helped families learn about and save for college since 2009. Its founder and Board Chairman, Bob Hildreth, has long been a champion of CSAs and served on a state Board of Education task force that recommended the statewide pilot program.
Hildreth praised legislative advocates, particularly Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka, who led the charge on this provision.
“This is groundbreaking. For the first time Massachusetts is putting tax dollars to use to match what families save for college. This would not have happened without Karen Spilka’s masterful direction,” Hildreth said.
The Senate plan calls for spending no less than $350,000 to create a public/private partnership establishing a two-year CSA for low-income residents in at least five cities and towns throughout Massachusetts. The plan, aimed at families with children in grades 7 through 12, will include matching grants for families who contribute at least $100 annually (up to a maximum of $500 annually).
It also ties college savings to parent engagement. Selected organizations will teach parents about planning for post-secondary education in meetings held at each site.
Inversant’s core belief is that families need to be a central focus in saving for college, and the budget rider endorses that, providing information about scholarships, grants and the ways to avoid relying heavily on college loans.