Helping Families Save for College:
Pennsylvania Treasury Department
Formed in 1777, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department has been the state’s independent fiscal and investment officer for more than 240 years. It also administers the PA 529 college saving account program, offering families a tax-advantaged way to save for college. Since 1993, more than 64,000 students have funded higher education costs at more than 2,200 schools and institutions with money from a PA 529 college saving account. As of 2017, the program had 220,000 account holders with more than $4,400,000,000 in assets under management.
Nonetheless, only 7.5 percent of eligible adults use the program and less than half the state’s residents have a post-secondary degree. With the majority of newly created jobs requiring a college degree, it is increasingly difficult for Pennsylvanians to succeed in the job market.
To address this gap, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department launched a pilot project to provide every child born within the year in one of six Pennsylvania counties (Westmoreland, Indiana, Elk, Delaware, Luzerne, and Mifflin) with a PA 529 account, including a $100 balance. Initially, approximately 15,000 children will be eligible to participate, and the state has since approved expanding it to every newborn in Pennsylvania.
A $250,000 Foundation grant will help provide PA 529 accounts to Westmoreland County families. Although the initial deposit will not cover the cost of higher education, recipients of funding through similar programs in other states are three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate.