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1:1 Fund Partners with Gift of College to Encourage Nevada Parents to Save

As CFED has written about before, Gift of College, a national gift registry for 529 college savings plans and student loan accounts, launched the sale of plastic gift cards at Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores nationwide in an effort to increase uptake in 529 college savings accounts. Now, the 1:1 Fund has joined in an innovative public-private partnership with Gift of College and the Nevada State Treasurer's Office to encourage low-income Nevada parents to open 529 plans.

The treasurer's office will distribute Gift of College gift cards on a pilot basis at two Title I schools in Reno, Nevada that enroll at least 40% of their students from low-income families. Each gift card will come pre-loaded with $25 – thanks to a grant from Charles Schwab Bank – and will serve as a tangible incentive for parents to open a 529 account in their child's name with a $25 "kick start." The treasurer's office will then encourage parents to link their child's 529 account to their Nevada College Kick Start account.

According to recent data, serious educational inequities abound in Nevada. The state ranks forty-ninth in high school graduation rates at 70%. The U.S. high school graduation rate stands at 82%. Additionally, Nevada ranks 46th in the percentage of adults over the age of 25 who have completed a two-year and four-year degree, at 31% and 23%, respectively. By comparison, 38% of adults living in the United States have at least a two-year degree, and 30% have at least a four-year degree. This partnership will allow the state to engage with families in a unique way to help build postsecondary aspirations for students from low-income backgrounds.

"CFED is excited to be a part of this novel partnership," said Carl Rist, the Director of Children's Savings and the 1:1 Fund at CFED. "We're especially grateful to be working with Gift of College, an innovative private sector partner that allows us to leverage the latest technology and marketing ideas to increase ownership of 529 college savings accounts in Nevada."

To help get the word out and help families open 529 accounts using the pre-loaded gift cards, Sheila Salehian, the Deputy Treasurer for Prepaid Tuition, 529 College Savings Plans and Financial Literacy at the Nevada Treasurer's Office, said that her office will work with local public elementary schools during kindergarten graduation ceremonies this spring to promote college savings uptake.

"As parents celebrate this milestone in their child's life and reflect upon how fast the first five years have passed since their child was born, we will be there to remind them that there is no better time than the present to start saving for their child's higher education needs," she said. "Time is still on their side if they start saving now."

"The Nevada Kick Start initiative provides an easy way for our youngest students to begin saving for college," said Wayne Weber, CEO of Gift of College. "We are proud to partner with them to help families make their dreams of a higher education a reality."