Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board Chairman Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), Center for Rural Pennsylvania Vice Chairman Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-121), and Center for Rural Pennsylvania Executive Director Dr. Kyle C. Kopko announced the findings of a study analyzing the differences in how residents of rural counties use and benefit from the PA 529 College & Career Savings Program compared to residents of urban counties.
The analysis, performed by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at the request of the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, concluded that urban county beneficiaries of PA 529 accounts have more savings for postsecondary education than rural account beneficiaries even after taking into account various statistical factors. Treasurer Garrity said the report shows the importance of emphasizing outreach to rural counties across Pennsylvania, which she has focused on since taking office.
“Every Pennsylvanian deserves access to quality postsecondary education opportunities – whether that means a four-year university, community college, technical school or an apprenticeship,” Treasurer Garrity said. “This report shows that we’re doing the right thing by increasing our outreach to our rural counties, which are all too often forgotten in Harrisburg. As a lifelong resident of Bradford County, one of our most rural counties, I’m committed to making sure every corner of the state understands the benefits of PA 529. I’ve visited every county in Pennsylvania each of the last two years, and I always talk about the benefits of PA 529 and how saving with PA 529 can help families reach their education goals.”
Between January 2018 and March 2022, more than 60 percent of all contributions to PA 529 accounts, went to PA 529 Investment Plan (IP) accounts in the 19 counties defined as urban by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.
“The Center for Rural Pennsylvania was pleased to partner with the Treasury Department to analyze its data and publish this new research,” said Chairman Sen. Yaw. “This report will help raise awareness among rural residents about PA 529 accounts and how these accounts may be useful to them to save for future education and workforce training needs.”
“As a former teacher, I know how important a quality education is for a student’s long-term success,” said Vice Chairman Rep. Pashinski. “PA 529 savings accounts can make quality post-secondary education possible and affordable for more families.”
“The data presented in this report yield several important findings,” said Dr. Kyle C. Kopko, Center for Rural Pennsylvania Executive Director. “Chief among them is the finding that there is a gap in 529 plan contribution levels between rural and urban account holders – even after accounting for a range of statistical factors that may influence contributions.”
The report, Differences in Rural and Urban PA 529 Education Savings Accounts, 2018-2022, also found a sharp increase in PA 529 contribution amounts during the third and fourth quarters of 2021. This followed action by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to offer advances on the Child Tax Credit, allowing parents making less than $400,000 filing jointly to receive part of their CTC reimbursement as monthly checks. However, the report concluded that more evidence is needed as to whether those policy changes contributed to the increase.