SoarMA to benefit students in 5 Gateway Cities
LOWELL – On Monday, March 13, Treasurer Deb Goldberg announced a new pilot program that will provide seed-funded college savings accounts to low-income middle schoolers and families in select Massachusetts Gateway Cities. SoarMA is a two-year initiative that includes the cities of Haverhill, Lowell, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester.
“Access to an affordable higher education provides a pathway to economic stability for many children and families,” said Treasurer Deb Goldberg. “I am excited to join the effort of these five gateway cities to help ensure Massachusetts’ next generation of leaders have a bright future.”
The initiative, funded through public-private partnerships, will provide a matched savings program and a financial education curriculum. The 529 college savings accounts will be offered through the Office of the Massachusetts State Treasurer and Receiver General, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) and Inversant. The SoarMA program’s pilot communities are the “Round II” Massachusetts participants in the Federal Reserve’s Working Cities Challenge grant program.
“Having served as a dean at Middlesex Community College, and knowing its impact on my own family, I have seen how higher education is the key to American ingenuity and innovation and to a productive civil society,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-3). “As we see too often, though, increasingly high tuition costs force students to borrow unprecedented sums of money or prohibit them from pursuing their academic goals. But college savings programs like SoarMA can be vital tools to help families save and prepare for the cost of sending their children to college. This program will also play an integral role in helping community partners meet their goals established through the Working Cities Challenge. Programs like these are a testament to Massachusetts’ resourcefulness, and our state’s ongoing commitment to education. I commend Treasurer Deb Goldberg and the State Legislature for their partnership and for spearheading this public-private collaboration.”
SoarMA aims to increase the percentage of families saving for higher education while also boosting post-secondary enrollment and graduation rates for the participating cities.
Additionally, SoarMA seeks to deliver high-quality financial education programming to families, building a culture centered on saving for the future and sustainable budget management. Inversant, a Boston-based non-profit organization, will support SoarMA with its existing curriculum model. Inversant’s mission is to ensure that through parental engagement, every low-to-moderate income family has the resources and understanding they need to achieve their goals for higher education.
“We’re excited about the growing Children’s Savings Account movement in Massachusetts,” said Charles Desmond, CEO of Inversant. “We’re honored to collaborate with Treasurer Goldberg on this important initiative that will enable the Commonwealth to take another step forward in making college savings accounts available for all families in Massachusetts. At Inversant, we have learned that families are dedicated to their children and eager to learn about the college process. Programs like SoarMA will motivate and inspire them to open, save, and plan for their children to pursue higher education.”
Inversant’s curriculum covers a full range of college access topics, including standardized testing, higher education options and costs, and the college application process. Presently, Inversant educates participating families in Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, and Salem. Inversant families increase their financial literacy so they understand how to minimize the amount they pay for college.
The confluence of financial planning and education has a substantial impact on college persistence rates. Inversant’s first-year college persistence rate is 20-percent higher than the national average.
Open enrollment for SoarMA will begin at the start of the 2017-2018 school year.