State Treasurer Fiona Ma on Feb. 4 announced the second year of the Matching Grant Program that helps low- and moderate-income California families kick-start their college savings and achieve their higher education goals.
The Matching Grant Program is offered through ScholarShare 529, one of the nation’s top-performing college savings plans. As of Feb. 1, the 2019 Matching Grant Program will offer eligible families a dollar-for-dollar match in contributions of up to $200 to those who apply and open new accounts. Families can also receive a $25 bonus for establishing a monthly automatic contribution plan of $25 or more.
These funds grow 100 percent tax-free and can be used at any accredited higher education program, including community colleges and trade schools. To be eligible, participants must be California residents, be the parent or legal guardian of the beneficiary, have valid Social Security Numbers or Federal Tax Identification Numbers, and earn $75,000 annually or less. The beneficiary of the account must be 14 years of age or younger.
“These grants are vital because they help open a pathway to post-secondary education and provide a critical incentive for many families to start saving for college,” said Ma, chair of the ScholarShare Investment Board.
Nothing has a bigger impact on the professional success and upward economic mobility of young people than higher education. But for many families the dream of sending their children to a community college, trade school or university has climbed beyond reach, as costs and student loan debt skyrocket.
Many college students today anticipate a future buried in a mountain of debt: 53 percent of California college seniors graduate with student loan debt. The 2019 Matching Grant Program can help. It ensures that more families can start a savings account to better manage future tuition costs, which are increasing at two to three times the rate of inflation every year.
“The dream of attaining a higher education is becoming even more challenging for many low- and moderate-income families, as tuition, books and housing costs continue to soar and the amount of student loan debt that families accrue dramatically grows year after year,” said Ma. “There is nothing more important to me than helping California families succeed – and higher education is a crucial component to ensuring that success. That’s why we’re excited to offer the ScholarShare 529 Matching Grant Program for the second consecutive year.”
The ScholarShare 529 program works closely with community-based organizations across the state – including the California Asset Building Coalition, Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative, Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, United Way of California and EARN – to ensure that eligible families are aware of the Matching Grant Program and take advantage of this important incentive to save for higher education.
Through the help of these partners, in 2018, the Matching Grant Program received nearly 1,000 applications from parents statewide, resulting in a total of $676,881 in family contributions and approximately $80,000 in ScholarShare 529 matching grants.
Studies have shown that even children with college savings of less than $500 are three times more likely to enroll in higher education and four times more likely to graduate than those without a college savings account. The Matching Grant Program offers low- and moderate-income families the opportunity to pursue a higher education and enjoy a brighter future.
For additional information about the program including complete terms and conditions, visit www.scholarshare529.com/mgp.