Posted Sep. 13, 2015 at 1:29 AM
CSA is a financial account in which a family sets aside money over the course of a child’s life for their college education. In many cases, a third-party – the state, a charity, or another group – matches the family’s contributions, to encourage savings and grow the accounts.
This session, we filed a bill in the House and Senate, S664/ H.1067, An Act to create a college savings program for every child born in Massachusetts, that would create a college savings account for every child born in the state. Under the bill, the state would also match up to $250 contributed from a family each year for families earning 250 percent of the federal poverty level or less. This would provide an opportunity for all families to ensure that their children are on the pathway to economic empowerment early on.
Ensuring that the American dream is within reach will better position the future generation of leaders and learners for economic achievement. There is a strong connection between savings and educational achievement and a noteworthy relationship between a family accumulating savings and the outcome of their children in school and throughout life. Having an account in a child’s name strengthens their confidence and improves the way they think about themselves and their outcome for the future. Having access to savings generally leads to better academic performances, higher rates of college matriculation and completion.
CSAs create not only financial means for families to afford college, but they create the expectation of college. Children of low-income parents with between just $1 and $500 in savings are four times as likely to graduate college as those who have no savings, according to a report by the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas.
When confronted with tuition hikes at public and private colleges, Massachusetts has already started taking action on multiple fronts. Treasurer Deb Goldberg will announce a pilot program of college savings accounts for Massachusetts kindergarteners this fall. In 2016, the City of Boston will introduce a three-year college savings account pilot program at three to five schools with $100 seed money with incentives over time. In the Legislature, our bills will have an opportunity to be heard before the Higher Education Committee this Wednesday.
There are many voices joined together at all levels in support of CSAs, which brings awareness to the issue and opens the door for innovative new ideas and more discussion to find a way forward for CSAs in Massachusetts. We must tap into the skills, energies, networks and knowledge of government at all its levels. Only when we are united together to promote change and help families in Massachusetts rise above any social barrier will we succeed in investing in our future.
State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, represents the Middlesex & Worcester District. State Rep. Tom Sannicandro, D-Ashland, represents the Seventh Middlesex District.
To read the op-ed online, visit MetroWest Daily News website here.