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July 28, 2014

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State-run program will give kindergarteners $50 start toward college savings

A new college savings plan is being rolled out, with the state putting $50 in an account of kindergarten students to encourage them to go on to higher education,

The pilot project will start by October in rural counties, and state Treasurer Kate Marshall says she hopes to expand it to Clark and Washoe counties later.

“We’ll see how it goes to make it statewide,” she said Thursday.

In Clark County, the Meadows Bank is contributing money for 80 students at the Agassi Charter School. In Washoe, there is a $20,000 grant from the Charles Schwab group to go to eight low-performing schools.

The state-run Nevada College Kick Start program is based on the idea that the initial $50 will gather interest and be available when the student enrolls at a college.

Marshall said students with college saving accounts are more likely to go on to school after high school graduation.

“We’re on the cutting edge in this,” Marshall said. Similar programs are starting in San Francisco, Cleveland and Jacksonville, Miss.

There are no taxpayer funds involved, Marshall said, adding it will be financed through grants, private sponsorships and program management fees.

If the student doesn’t go on to college by age 25, the money will revert to the fund and the individual will not be able to use it for other purposes.

The program is waiting for the student count this month to start setting up the $50 accounts.

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