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Worried about saving for college? California is giving money to parents to help jump start their savings plan

(BPT) - If you’re like many parents, one concern at the back of your mind is whether you’ll be able to help with your children’s education costs once they graduate from high school.

With no shortage of shocking statistics around college costs, including tuition, fees, boarding and books, it’s no wonder parents are worried. In California, the average student loan debt load for four-year college is $22,785, according to 2017 statistics from the Institute for College Access and Success.

Still, many parents recognize the value of a college education. A recent survey by ScholarShare 529 shows that 90% of all California parents expect their child to attend college, and 82% plan to help their children pay for it.

Luckily, California parents have access to resources to help them achieve their goals. California State Treasurer Fiona Ma is encouraging California parents to take advantage of the benefits of opening a ScholarShare 529 account, which is the Golden State's official college savings plan. The program offers families a tax-advantaged savings plan so they can save and invest to cover a child’s future education costs.

Ma is especially interested in getting the word out to parents about the possibility of free money available through the ScholarShare 529 Matching Grant Program. When qualified parents take that critical first step in opening a new ScholarShare 529 account, they’ll have an opportunity to get as much as an extra $225 to save for school.

Open to applicants with a household adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less, the program offers a dollar-for-dollar match-in contribution of up to $200 for new accounts. Then, families who set up a monthly automatic contribution plan of $25 or more will receive a $25 bonus.

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“Higher education is an important key to success, and we want to make it more accessible to California families,” Ma says. “I hope that the ScholarShare 529 Matching Grant Program will encourage parents to start saving early.”

Beyond the Matching Grant Program, ScholarShare 529 also offers tax-free growth. These funds can be used for a range of qualified expenses at most trade schools, colleges and universities anywhere in the U.S.

Saving for college can be daunting for many cash-strapped parents. However, the act of getting started increases your odds of success. Case in point, a recent study by the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis revealed that children with college savings of $500 or less are three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate. That’s pretty encouraging.

To learn more, visit the ScholarShare 529 Matching Grant Program website at www.scholarshare529.com/mgp and get signed up today.

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