Getting an early start on saving money for college is about to get a little easier for thousands of City students.
Thanks to a partnership between the NYC Department of Education, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, the Gray Foundation, and NYC Kids RISE, kindergarten students in District 30 in Queens will be provided with the City’s first-ever Child Savings Accounts (CSAs) in fall 2017.
Through this CSA pilot program, which will help thousands of City public school students and their families save for college, approximately 3,500 kindergartners in District 30 will each have $100 allocated to them initially in scholarship accounts in fall 2017. In addition, each student in the pilot program will receive up to $200 in matching funds during the program’s first three years. The funds for these CSAs are being provided following a $10 million donation by the Gray Foundation.
There will be no cost to students and families participating in this program, and every kindergarten student enrolled in public schools in District 30 will be automatically enrolled in the program starting fall 2017. It is expected that approximately 10,000 children will be part of this pilot during its first three years.
Pending the success of this initiative, the City’s ultimate goal is to expand this program citywide so that every child in the NYC public school system can be provided with a universal scholarship account. District 30, which includes the Queens neighborhoods of Astoria, Hunter’s Point, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, and Woodside, was selected to launch this pilot following an analysis of all of the City’s 32 geographic school districts. After taking into account district-wide poverty levels, infrastructure, ethnic makeup, and numbers of English language learners and students with disabilities, District 30 was chosen because it is the school district that is the most representative of the City’s entire public school population.
NYC Kids RISE, the newly-formed charitable nonprofit organization that was created by the City and the Gray Foundation to oversee the CSAs, plans to begin raising additional private funds to support this pilot program’s ongoing costs while exploring ways of expanding it to City’s remaining 31 geographic school districts. NYC Kids RISE is chaired by Julie Menin, who also serves as the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
The CSA program will work in collaboration with New York State’s 529 College Savings Program, which enables students’ family members and others to invest additional funds towards college. Any money contributed to a student’s CSA, including the initial $100 and any subsequent matching funds, will be invested in the State’s 529 Direct Plan, which means that all CSA funds will have the potential to benefit from compounding earnings. (Please note: Investments in any 529 investment program entail risk of loss. Any investment by family members or friends will be optional and up to their sole discretion.)
“This pilot is a critical step forward as we strengthen students’ paths to college and careers, and I look forward to working with NYC Kids RISE and District 30 leaders to make a difference for this community’s students and families,” said Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “I thank the Gray Foundation and Commissioner Menin for their partnership and commitment in making this pilot a reality, and supporting equity and excellence for our students.”
For more information about this pilot program, check out the City’s official press release, and stay tuned for further updates right here on The Morning Bell.