In the fall of 2013, the State Treasurer’s Office launched an exciting new
pilot program aimed at instilling the dream of a college education in the minds
of Nevada school children. The Nevada College Kick Start
Program established 529 college savings accounts for all new fall
2013 kindergarten public school students in 13 of Nevada’s most rural
communities. In February 2014, the Nevada College Kick Start
Program expanded statewide to include all public school kindergarten
children in Nevada. In the fall of 2014, a new batch of kindergarten
students was added to the Program bringing the number of students participating
to nearly 65,000 statewide. The Board of Trustees of the College Savings
Plans of Nevada has agreed to fund the program for three successive school
years—through 2015-2016—and then review the impact of the Nevada College
Kick Start Program in helping Nevada families prepare for future
The Nevada College Kick Start Program is using a portion of
program manager fees, not taxpayer dollars, to open an SSgA Upromise
529 Plan college savings account with an initial deposit of $50 for each
public school kindergarten student. The funding is held in a Master
Account, with the State Treasurer’s Office as the account owner. The
Master Account is managed by Ascensus College Savings., the program manager for
the College Savings Plans of Nevada Program.
The accounts were established automatically based on information supplied by
the schools to the Treasurer’s Office, including the child’s name and school
district ID number. Withdrawals from the Master Account can only be made for
Internal Revenue Code qualified higher education related expenses when the
child is entering college, in most cases, 13 years later. Nevada
College Kick Start Program account funds can be used to attend any
institution of higher learning in the United States, including trade and
To help Nevada families prepare for future higher education expenses the
minimum account opening for a SSgA Upromise 529 Plan college savings
account was lowered to a mere $15. Through educational outreach efforts
on many levels, Nevada families are being encouraged to consider opening a
separate SSgA Upromise 529 Plan college savings account that will grow their
child’s savings over time. These completely separate accounts are controlled
and managed by the account holder, not by the Treasurer’s Office.
The Treasurer’s Office has supplied elementary schools across the state with
collateral materials, including fliers, brochures, posters, etc.
Information about the program is available at CollegeKickStart.nv.gov.
Account owners are also receiving emails and regular mail about their account.
Research conducted by the Center for Social Development at Washington
University in St. Louis outlined in, “The Role of Savings and Wealth in
Reducing ‘Wilt’ Between Expectations and College Attendance,” found that
children with a college savings account are up to seven times more likely to
attend college than those without an account. Similarly, a study
conducted by the University of Kansas’ School of Social Welfare found that
college savings send a strong message to children: “You are a college
saver. You are college-bound.” The study also concluded that “Even small
accounts, in many cases inadequate to even buy books for a semester, increase
perseverance and improve academic preparation.” It is important to note that
such conclusions applied regardless of family income, ethnicity, or the educational
attainment of the child’s parents.
According to a study by Complete College America (Nevada 2011), by 2020, 58%
of jobs will require a career certificate or college degree. As of 2011, only
28% of Nevada adults hold an associate degree or higher, one of the lowest
college educated populaces in the nation. Studies also show
that the percent of jobs requiring a college degree will jump to 70% by 2030.
As Nevada works to diversify the local economy, creating high level jobs with
better pay and benefits will require a more educated workforce to fill those
positions. In order to develop a workforce that is able to compete in a global
economy, it is essential more Nevadan’s plan for higher education.
Therefore, the concept behind the Nevada College Kick Start Program can
play an important role in creating a “college-going culture” by planting a seed
in the minds of Nevada kindergartners and their parents that attending and
graduating from an institution of higher learning is a goal within reach.