Mass. College Savings Plan BabySteps Grows – NBC Boston

More than 20,000 Massachusetts babies have already started saving for college.

BabySteps, a Massachusetts Office of Economic Empowerment program that encourages families to save for their children’s college education, has reached the new enrollment milestone.

The program, run by State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, began in 2020. Families who enroll receive $50 in seed capital in a U.Fund 529 college or professional savings account through MEFA or the Massachusetts Education Financing Authority, within one year of the birth of their child. or adoption.

“Setting your aspirations and putting your child and family on the first step towards a life of education and success means a lot to all of us and that’s why we do our job,” Goldberg said during a webinar on the program Tuesday. .

Children are 30% more likely to attend college when their families start saving at an early age, Goldberg said. The turnout for 2021 was 12.4% of eligible families, Treasurer’s Director of Program Evaluation Daphna Gluck reported at an OEE meeting in June. Gluck predicted the rate will rise to over 13% by 2022.

It’s college application season, but the high schoolers might be missing something important.

US Senator Ed Markey pre-recorded a video shown during Tuesday’s webinar, saying the program puts children on a “safe path” to their highest aspirations.

He said the program will help close the racial wealth gap in Massachusetts.

CommonWealth magazine reported in July that families in the state’s wealthiest communities were enrolling their children at much higher rates than poorer towns.

The cities that topped the state average in 2020 and 2021 were Somerville, Newton, Cambridge, Medford, Waltham and Boston — highly educated and wealthier communities in the Boston area, CommonWealth reported. Meanwhile, gateway towns such as New Bedford, Brockton, Chelsea, Lynn and Fall River had much lower turnouts. Less than 1% of babies in Lawrence and Springfield have opened savings accounts.

The fiscal year 2023 budget (H 5050) signed by Governor Charlie Baker in August includes $500,000 for the program, with a provision to try to close the economic and racial gap.

Funds intended to “maintain and increase program participation” will be subject to matching contributions, provided the money “is used to promote geographic, social, racial and economic equity and reduce barriers to enrollment. to the agenda that persist in low-income communities and communities of color.”

“Education is the key to a strong middle class, but the exorbitant cost of a good education has weighed on so many families climbing the mountain toward education and economic security,” Markey said.

While every penny counts and start-up money can start families on the path to saving, $50 is a tiny drop in the savings bucket. CollegeBoard estimates that the average tuition at a four-year public university for the 2021-2022 school year was $10,980 for in-state students and $27,560 for out-of-state students. State. For private schools, tuition averaged $38,070 last year before room and board.

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