Keystone Scholars Doubles Likelihood of Participation in PA 529 College and Career Savings Program

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella announced the results of the 6-county Keystone Scholars pilot program, which showed that families in pilot counties were twice as likely, across every demographic, to continue saving for their child’s future education using a PA 529 account, than non-pilot counties.

“Keystone Scholars is meant to help families take their first step towards saving for future postsecondary education costs, no matter what path their child takes. The data shows that families are using this jump start to continue saving through childhood. I’m proud to see the positive impact that Keystone Scholars is having on families, and thankful to the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Governor Wolf for expanding this program statewide—because every child in Pennsylvania deserves the chance to have a bright future.”

 Pennsylvania Treasurer, Joe Torsella

The Keystone Scholars pilot project provides a $100 starter deposit to a PA 529 account for all babies born or adopted in Delaware, Elk, Indiana, Luzerne, Mifflin, or Westmoreland counties in 2018, to be used for future postsecondary education expenses. The statewide expansion of the program was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Wolf on June 22, 2018 and took effect January 1, 2019. Senators Hughes and Gordner were key legislative partners in the passage of Keystone Scholars.

Treasury worked with Dr. Robert Nathenson, a senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research, and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Consortium for Policy Research in Education, to study the pilot and evaluate the impact it has had on recipient families. In September 2019, Nathenson found that overall, families in pilot counties were twice as likely to open a PA 529 account as families in non-pilot counties within the first year of their child’s life.

The $100 provided by Keystone Scholars will grow through investment and can be used for qualified postsecondary education expenses at most trade schools, vocational programs, community colleges and universities. Keystone Scholars funds must be used before the child turns 29 years old.

The program does not use any taxpayer dollars. Keystone Scholars funds are invested as part of the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) and funded by surplus investment earnings, in addition to philanthropic donations.