SoarMA pilot benefits seventh and eighth grade students in five Gateway Cities
PITTSFIELD - On Friday, October 19th, Treasurer Deb Goldberg hosted a town hall discussion on college access and affordability with Reid Middle School students, speaking about the pilot college savings program SoarMA. Launched last December, SoarMA is the State’s first college savings account program that provides seeded 529 accounts as well as savings workshops to low-income middle schoolers and their families in Gateway Cities. The two-year pilot includes the cities of Haverhill, Lowell, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester.
“Access to affordable higher education is critical to the economic future of many families and communities in Massachusetts,” said Treasurer Deb Goldberg. “It was a pleasure to join these incredible kids and discuss ways we can maintain and build upon the growing college-going culture in Pittsfield.”
The initiative, funded through public-private partnerships, provides an initial seed deposit of $50 and a matched savings of up to $400. Monthly college savings workshops will be offered in all five communities. The 529 college savings accounts are offered through the Office of the Massachusetts State Treasurer and Receiver General, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) and Inversant.
"At MEFA we understand how saving for college can help students reach their dreams, and middle school is an excellent time for families to start saving if they haven't already,” said Tom Graf, Executive Director of MEFA. “Planning early will provide students and families more options when it comes time to pursue that college degree.”
Treasurer Goldberg was joined by community leaders during her conversation with Pittsfield students and their families. Through impactful community partnerships, SoarMA aims to increase the percentage of families saving for higher education while also boosting post-secondary enrollment and graduation rates for participating cities.
“In the City of Pittsfield, we are proud to be a community that readily supports the aspirations of our young people. Many of our students are able to move forward along their desired path, but for some, financial barriers impede their dreams of attending college,” said Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer. The 529 accounts will help to lessen some of those challenges and allow our young learners to achieve their highest potential.”
Additionally, SoarMA seeks to deliver high-quality financial education programming to families, building a culture centered on saving for the future and sustainable budget management. Inversant, a Boston-based non-profit organization, will support SoarMA with its existing curriculum model. Inversant's mission is to ensure that through parental engagement, every low-to-moderate income family has the resources and understanding they need to achieve their goals for higher education.
“Children with savings accounts develop a strong sense of their future possibilities, including college, career, home ownership, and economic stability,” said Robert Hildreth, Founder and Board Chair of Inversant. “By partnering with the Massachusetts State Treasurer’s Office, even more, families across the state will be able to access a higher education, and more importantly, better the entire family’s prospects.”
For more information about Treasurer Goldberg’s college savings pilot program please visit https://www.soarma529.org/