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Mass. Treasurer Announces Pilot Program Of College Savings Accounts

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State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg on Tuesday announced a pilot program of college savings accounts for Massachusetts kindergartners.

The state-created accounts will partly be paid for with private sources. The idea is that students with the accounts can then use the funds — years later — for post-secondary education or vocational training.

The first-term Democrat outlined the pilot program during a speech at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning.

"[The accounts] accomplish several important outcomes," Goldberg said in her remarks. "First, they create aspirations for higher education or technical training. Second, that training in Massachusetts will more likely result in a job — in sectors where the salaries are the highest and we need those type of skilled employees. Third, these accounts will teach basic financial literacy skills, not only for the children but also for their parents."

The pilot is set to begin this fall, and accounts will be funded through not-yet-determined public-private partnerships, Goldberg said in the address.

Others details — such as how many communities will partake in the pilot, and the dollar amount in the accounts — have also not been determined yet. The pilot "is in the planning stages," Goldberg said in an interview.

The treasurer said her office has been looking at similar initiatives from other states, including Nevada's Kick Start program.

After their research, Goldberg said, "I felt [a Massachusetts program] could really put kids on a pathway of long-term economic stability."

The pilot is part of a larger push by the treasurer on financial literacy and empowerment, and it follows a similar effort by the city of Boston.

As we reported in April, Boston is hoping to launch, in 2016, a three-year college savings account pilot program at three to five schools. Those accounts are slated to begin with $100 seed money, and students will have opportunities to earn incentives over their school years.

Goldberg — of Brookline, whose family once owned the grocer giant Stop & Shop — said she and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are “very much on the same wavelength” on financial empowerment issues.

After the pilot program, Goldberg said "absolutely" she hopes to make the accounts available to kindergartners statewide.

Also to the business leaders at the chamber, Goldberg talked about the need to build better schools in Massachusetts and address the wage gap between men and women, among other priorities.

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Benjamin Swasey Twitter Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.

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