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Reporting on the state of education in your community and across the country.

FitzGerald Announces Cuyahoga County College Savings Account Program

FitzGerald talks to students at Cleveland's Campus International.

On Tuesday, the chatter at Cleveland’s Campus International School was all about piggy banks."How many of you had piggy banks where you save money," Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald asked a crowd of seven kindergarteners at Cleveland's Campus International School.Sitting on a round rainbow rug, the majority nodded, and a few raised their hands."When I was a kid, I had one that was in the shape of a piggy bank," FitzGerald continued. "Do you have one in the shape of a piggy bank?""I have one that's in shape of a piggy bank and one that isn't," said one student."It's an orange piggy bank," her classmate chimed in.FitzGerald stopped by to talk about adding more money to those banks, thanks to the county’s new College Savings Account program, which is being created with more than 10,000 savings accounts, each with a $100 deposit.

The accounts are for kindergarten students enrolled in the county’s public schools.Families are encouraged to invest more funds to the accounts over the years, and students will only be able to tap into the money to pay for their higher education plans.FitzGerald said he hopes the program will encourage more financial responsibility for students and families as they look towards the future.“Just the fact they have that account and it’s not just somebody preaching to them, or telling them they should do this,” FitzGerald said at a press conference. “But it’s something real, it’s something tangible. They can look up these accounts and see what kind of progress they’re making. That’s so important.”The deposit money comes from a two million dollar budget request approved by Cuyahoga County’s council last year.Aside from just providing money, FitzGerald thinks this move will help stress the importance of higher education."We’re also creating a different culture in Cuyahoga County that post-secondary education is not just a goal, it’s a realistic opportunity for every child in this county,” he said.Under the program, new accounts will be opened annually for each student enrolled in a public kindergarten by October 31 of the current school year, and parents can choose to opt out.Cuyahoga County isn't the only--or the first--area to roll out this plan. Similar programs exist in San Fransisco, Nevada, and Mississippi