State gives every kindergartner $50 college savings account

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State gives every kindergartner $50 college savings account

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A state program offering a $50 college savings account to every Nevada kindergartner launched Tuesday.

The Nevada College Kick Start Program began as a pilot last fall for 3,500 kindergartners in the state's most rural counties. Now it's expanding to include nearly 35,000 students across the state.

Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall says similar initiatives have popped up across the country on a smaller scale in San Francisco, Cleveland, and Jackson, Mississippi. In Nevada, the program uses non-tax payer funds and includes financial literacy education.

"In addition to putting money in the account," Marshall says, "we give the kindergarten teachers six lesson plans for those kindergarten children to talk to them about money that's age-appropriate."

Only 38 percent of Nevada students are enrolling in college and only 20 percent are graduating. To improve those numbers, Marshall says the state is also matching college fund contributions for eligible families.

"If a family makes less than $75,000 a year in Nevada," she explains, "and opens a college savings account--any family, kindergarten or no--they can apply and we will match that money that they put in their college savings account dollar-for-dollar, up to $300 a year."

Marshall says starting a savings account, even a small one, sends a message to young children that they are college-bound.