CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County is launching a new initiative that will create a $100 college savings account for each kindergartner starting school next fall.
The Cuyahoga County College Savings Account Program will be the largest effort of its kind nationwide and the first offered by a county in Ohio.
"It's an important first step for people to especially have the expectation that they can go to college," said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald.
The program, which is modeled after similar efforts in San Francisco, will initially serve 15,000 public, private, charter and parochial school students in the county. It's intended to boost college attendance particularly among low-income youth.
"I will certainly be talking about college more often," said Millie Litten, a kindergarten teacher at Oxford Elementary in Cleveland Heights.
Litten added that she plans to discuss college in her classroom curriculum next year.
"It finally gives our kids an incentive to go to college that they've never had before," she said.
The $100 deposit can be used for any post-secondary education, including vocational training and two-year, as well as four-year colleges.
"It's not a lot but it helps," said Brandi Wise whose daughter will be a kindergartner in Cuyahoga County next fall. She welcomes the savings account for her own family and the community.
"It can help anybody whose parents have not started or have not considered starting or even had a chance to think about it."
The program is expected to cost taxpayers up to $3 million annually. The county is also considering implementing a school-based financial education program for students to learn about the importance of saving and managing money.