Pittsfield and four other Gateway Cities were selected to be part of a new pilot program that will provide seeded college savings accounts to low-income middle schoolers and families, as announced by Treasurer Deb Goldberg last month at a news conference in Lowell.
The two-year initiative, known as SoarMA, is funded through public-private partnerships, and will provide a matched savings program and a financial education curriculum. The 529 college savings accounts will be offered through the Office of the Massachusetts State Treasurer and Receiver General, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) and Inversant. The SoarMA program’s pilot communities are the “Round II” Massachusetts participants in the Federal Reserve’s Working Cities Challenge grant program. Other selected cities include Haverhill, Lowell, Springfield, and Worcester.
Open enrollment for SoarMA will begin at the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
“Access to an affordable higher education provides a pathway to economic stability for many children and families,” said Treasurer Goldberg in a statement. “I am excited to join the effort of these five gateway cities to help ensure Massachusetts’ next generation of leaders has a bright future.”
Pittsfield School Superintendent Jason “Jake” McCandless said the city’s inclusion in this program provides families with an important resource to help prepare for their children’s college education.
“For many families, especially first-generation college families, the financing of a college education is the scariest hurdle to confront, let alone get over,” said Superintendent McCandless. “The SoarMA 529 college savings program gets families thinking about funding college, and takes the fear out of college funding, and replaces it with a plan and incentives to get to a college savings goal. The Pittsfield public schools and the Reid Middle School are very grateful to the Treasurer’s Office, to the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority and to Inversant for this amazing opportunity to help children and families fulfill their college aspirations.”
Superintendent McCandless schools will promote the program through a variety of mediums to spread the word.
“I think we will offer some evening events – maybe invite some of the local financial institutions and colleges in to talk about financing colleges – and we can saturate people with this info via our messaging systems and newsletters.”
For more information, please contact Central Administration at 413-499-9512.