California State Treasurer John Chiang and ScholarShare 529, one of the nation’s top performing college savings plans, announced Thursday the launch of a new program to help low and moderate income California families jumpstart saving for college.
The Matching Grant Program will help families open a college savings account and counter rising tuition costs, one of the most significant obstacles to securing a higher education.
The Matching Grant Program, which opens on Jan. 1, 2018, offers a dollar-for-dollar match contribution of up to $200 on new accounts. Families that establish a monthly automatic contribution plan of $25 or more are eligible for a $25 bonus.
“The wealth gap in our country is the widest it has been in 40 years and the ability to afford higher education is becoming increasingly difficult for low- and moderate-income California families,” said State Treasurer John Chiang, chair of the ScholarShare Investment Board. “To break the back of college unaffordability, we need to both tame out of control tuition increases and student loan debt as well as help families build college nest eggs.”
Research shows that children with savings accounts, however small, are seven times more likely to attend and graduate college. To give California families an opportunity to pursue higher education and a bright future, ScholarShare529 will encourage families to open 529 accounts as part of the new Matching Grant Program.
The program offers flexibility as the funds can be used at any accredited higher-education program, including community colleges and trade schools, as well as for other approved educational expenses. And, the savings in a ScholarShare 529 account will not impact eligibility for most state benefits, such as CalWORKS and CalFresh.
ScholarShare 529 is working closely with community based organizations (CBOs) across the state, including California Asset Building Coalition, Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative, Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, United Ways of California, EARN, and Glendale Unified School District to ensure that eligible families receive the news about the Matching Grant Program and take advantage of this new incentive to save for college.
“Recent studies indicate that California will fall short about 1.1 million college graduates by 2030 if current trends persist. Making college more accessible to all Californians, regardless of income, is a necessity if we want to improve the overall fiscal health of our state and close the workforce skills gap,” Chiang said.
Eligible parents/guardians must be California residents at enrollment, have a valid social security number or a federal tax ID number, and have an adjusted gross annual income of $75,000 or less.
For additional information about eligibility, please visit www.mgp.scholarshare529.com.