New program gives Pennsylvania newborns a head start to college

Mike DeNardo
March 23, 2019 - 4:00 am

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania newborns can get a $100 head start on their college education, under a new state program.

State treasurer Joe Torsella announced the new Keystone Scholars https://www.pa529.com/keystone/

program in front of toddlers at the Prodigy Learning Center on Hunting Park Avenue.

"I had a lot of aunts and uncles who, for birthdays and milestones would give me a $25 savings bond and say, 'This is for your education.' And when I was your age, I thought that was the world's worst possible gift," he said.

The program puts $100 into the 529 college account of every child born or adopted in Pennsylvania, after January 1, 2019.

Charlie is only nine-weeks-old, but his parents, Kristin Dressel and Jon Ross of Radnor, have already signed him up.

"I think that's great,” Charlie’s mother told KYW Newsradio. “I think that's a really good start. It's a big push to continue to invest for him, to save money. If we do that for 18 years, he'll have a lot."

 9-week old Charlie, with parents Kristin Dressel and Jon Ross.
Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

If families contribute $25 a month, Torsella says they could have $10,000 in 18 years. Torsella says 140,000 babies are born in Pennsylvania each year.

No taxpayer money is used for the program. It's funded by foundations and private donations. 

He says children who have education savings are three times more likely to pursue college -- and four times more likely to graduate.

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