(April 18) – Rep. Brittany Pettersen’s bill to create college savings accounts for low-income preschool-age children passed the House on a 38-26 vote this morning. HB16-1196 creates the Aspire to College Colorado pilot program in the Department of Human Services to provide college savings accounts to pre-school aged children served in an early childhood program.

“This is a great way to leverage a small amount of money to create huge opportunities for the young kids who need it the most,” said Rep. Pettersen, D-Lakewood, who shares prime sponsorship of the bill with Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale. “Research shows that talking to a child about their plans for college early on helps them think of themselves as college bound and raises the parent’s educational expectations for their children. We know that low to middle income students with college savings accounts are three times more likely to attend college, and four times more likely to graduate from college”

The program will be a public-private partnership where the state provides the initial $50 deposit in 529 college savings accounts in the child’s name and private philanthropic donations match ongoing family contributions up to $100 a year. 529 accounts are highly protected tax-advantaged investment accounts that can only be used for qualified higher education expenses. The bill also includes financial education through participating preschools. After three years, the program will be evaluated for success.

The approval sends the bill to the Senate.

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