Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation Pursues Offering Kindergarteners 529 Accounts, Inspiring the County to Join in the Program
Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation (MVCSC) is implementing a culture that inspires young students in Hancock County to pursue a post-secondary education. This fall, MVCSC and all Hancock County schools will be offering kindergarteners an opportunity to open their own 529 account, initially funded by community partners. MVCSC’s Director of Special Programs, Scott Shipley, is coordinating the “Hancock County Promise” and seeking a grant through Promise Indiana to help fund the inspiring program.
The Promise Indiana program aims to foster a community-wide culture where all students have the opportunity to open a 529 account and believe they can attend a post-secondary education. This message is reinforced through the community with business partnerships who become student advocates. Shipley has secured a five year agreement with Hancock Regional Hospital and NineStar to fund opening 529 accounts for all Hancock County kindergarteners; additional corporate sponsors are likely to join forces in the near future.
Through the Promise Indiana model, parents open a 529 account for their child that is funded by the community partners (currently Hancock Regional Hospital and NineStar). After the account is established, the kindergartener is then asked to find five “champions” in their life who each donate $5, creating a community of support for the student. After the student’s $25 deposit, community business partners will match the deposit in a third wave with another $25 donation.
Shipley stated, “Transforming culture begins by initiating community partners through the school. These partnerships help each child and family build the college dream by opening a 529 account. This will also educate parents that affording college can be financially achievable by establishing a 529 account leveraged by community partners.”
Shipley has secured an agreement with all county public schools to participate in the 529 program. MVCSC is inspiring the county to create a “college-going culture” by initiating all county schools to participate in the 529 program, “Promise Hancock County.” With all four county schools participating, nearly 1,000 kindergarteners will have the opportunity to open a 529 account in the fall of 2017.
The Promise Indiana model also includes classroom activities enhancing the message to children that college is a viable option. The program inspires the students to dream of their future occupation and learn about savings. The model includes a field trip to a local college/university that is funded by Promise Indiana and appropriately titled “Walk into my Future.” Shipley has secured Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis IUPUI as the select university who will host nearly 1,000 Hancock County kindergarteners.
“When children have a savings account in their name, they are seven times more likely to attend college,” according to a study by Elliott & Beverly at Washington University Center for Social Development (2010). When college funds and college dreams are started at an early age, such as kindergarten, dreams are converted into an attainable reality and inspire a “college-going culture.”
MVCSC Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins stated, “Changing the community into a college-going culture will take the entire community: the kindergartener’s personal champions, the schools and the business community. We are proud to be the leader in initiating Hancock County organizations to activate families and communities in the task of preparing children for college. I am thankful for Scott Shipley’s diligent leadership in pursuing this grant and working with the local businesses to benefit our students. We are also greatly appreciative of Hancock Regional Hospital and NineStar’s support of this valuable program.”
About the 529 Plan: A 529 plan is a college savings plan sponsored by Indiana. Savings can be used for tuition, books or education-related expenses at most two and four-year colleges/universities. Indiana has one of the most liberal tax-advantages for 529 plans, providing parents with a 20 percent tax credit for the year’s 529 contributions up to $1,000.