State Treasurer Joe Torsella Visits the College to Announces New Keystone Scholars Pilot Program
(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA • May 3, 2018)—State Treasurer Joe Torsella visited Delaware County Community College today to announce a new program, Keystone Scholars, which invests $100 for each child born, or adopted, in 2018 and 2019 to help their families pay for the costs of higher education. The program is designed to encourage Pennsylvania families to start thinking about saving for college early and often so that money is set aside once a newborn reaches college age.
“Since the Great Recession, 95 percent of new jobs went to people with some form of education beyond high school,” Torsella said. “If we want future generations to learn here and stay here, we’ve got to invest in them. The Keystone Scholars program tells every child born in Delaware County that we know they can achieve great things, and we’ll help them get started on the path to a brighter future.”
According to a study by the Center for Social Development at Washington University in Saint Louis, a baby with a higher education savings account at birth is three times more likely to pursue education or training after high school and four times more likely to graduate. If a Pennsylvania family were to put in $25 per month starting when their child is born, by age 18 that nest egg would grow to approximately $10,000 (based on certain investment assumptions), according to the Pennsylvania Treasurer’s office.
Funding for Keystone Scholars comes from philanthropic donations. Delaware County is one of six Pennsylvania counties chosen for this pilot program. The other counties participating include Elk, Indiana, Luzerne, Mifflin and Westmoreland.
Families have until their baby’s first birthday to claim their $100 Keystone Savings investment. Eligibility for the $100 is based on the baby’s county of residency. To be eligible, families can go online to www.pa529.com/keystone and complete a registration, or call 1-800-440-4000. The $100 is invested in the state’s already existing Pennsylvania 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan. If not used by the beneficiary’s 29th birthday, the $100 is returned to the Pennsylvania Treasury.
Pennsylvanians currently have the highest student loan debt load per person of any state in the nation. Many families find it hard to get started saving faced with their many other household expenses. Nevada, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine all have statewide higher educational savings plans like Keystone Scholars, according to the PA Treasurer’s office.
While at Delaware County Community College today Treasurer Torsella emphasized that most careers today, and in the future, will require some level of higher education. One of the reasons Treasurer Torsella visited the College’s Advanced Technology Center, which offers students training in advanced manufacturing, as well as the trades, such as carpentry and electrical, was to demonstrate that higher education can take many forms: industry recognized college certificate; two-year degree; vocational and technical school; four-year-college or university; or graduate school.
At the announcement, Britney Spinelli, a student at the College who will graduate later this month with an industry-recognized certificate in Process Control Technology, as well as an Associate in Applied Science degree in Advanced Technology, said Keystone Scholars sounded like a smart program for parents. Process control technicians work in petroleum, chemical, pharmaceutical, food and other industries. They oversee, monitor and maintain equipment, including valves, fittings, and pressure and measurement devices to ensure smooth work flow and state and federal regulatory and safety compliance.
Having successfully juggled paying for college, a full-time course load and two full-time jobs, Spinelli is pleased to be graduating on May 17. “There are many students like me who struggle to make ends meet while doing their best to advance their education,” Spinelli said. “It is for this reason that I think parents would appreciate receiving $100 from the state to jump start their college savings plans for their children.”
Dr. Paula Pitcher, the College’s vice president for Enrollment Management, who also spoke at the announcement today, said helping students like Spinelli is what the College does best. “Finding ways to help students and families afford the education they need is an important part of the mission of Delaware County Community College,” Pitcher said. “And one of the best ways to help students – particularly students who are the first in their families to attend college – is to get them thinking early about saving for college. That is why we are pleased that the state treasurer has selected our county, Delaware County, as one of six counties in the Commonwealth to participate in this innovative college-saving program.”
Photo Caption: Pennsylvania State Treasurer Joe Torsella (at podium) is joined by Delaware County Community College student Britney Spinelli (far left) and many state legislators and state officials in announcing the PA Treasury Keystone Scholars higher education savings program. The event took place at the Jerome S. Parker Advanced Technology Center at the Marple Campus of Delaware County Community College. The Center is home to education and training facilities for students for careers in the trades and advanced manufacturing.