Olympia – Rep. Christine Kilduff (D-University Place) is proposing a pilot program that would establish children’s college savings accounts on both the eastern and western sides of the state.
“As a mom with two daughters, one in the 11th grade and starting to look at schools, college is a shockingly high cost. I want to help provide opportunities for students and their families to see hope. Too many see the rising cost of college and feel they won’t be able to afford it,” said Kilduff. “I don’t want finances to be a barrier to pursing an education. Every student should be able to pursue their dreams after a standard K-12 education.”
The Washington Next Generation Educational Savings Account pilot program would identify two initial participants (counties, cities, school districts, etc.). When a child reaches kindergarten in those jurisdictions, an educational 529 savings account is created for that child.
An initial deposit of $25 is put in the account. If that account reaches $250, or the family opens an account, or if the child meets requirements for attendance, there’s a matching grant of $50 each time one of these milestones is reached.
Along with our four-year institutions, saved funds are also good for apprenticeships and vocational programs.
The real power of this bill is the opportunity to change pessimistic views regarding the possibility of not being able to afford college or school of one’s choice. It grants hope to those who may have previously saw none.
Just as in other states, this would be a public-private partnership, with funding for the accounts coming from private sources and investments, much like businesses and foundations contribute to our state’s existing Opportunity Scholarships.
Amounts deposited into these accounts would not be taken into account when determining eligibility for other financial aid opportunities like the state need grant.
Similar legislation has been passed in Maine, Vermont, and many other jurisdictions around the country.