Governor Polis and Dept. of Higher Ed Highlight CollegeInvest First Step Program, Helping More Than 10,000 Families Begin Saving for Their Children's Education
First Step has provided more than $1 Million to Colorado Families Saving for their Children's Postsecondary Education
DENVER - Governor Polis and Dr. Angie Paccione, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) celebrated the success of the CollegeInvest First Step Program, which has awarded $1 million to more than 10,000 Colorado families saving for their children's future education and highlighted additional opportunities to save. The CollegeInvest First Step program helps families begin planning and saving for their children's postsecondary education by awarding $100 to a CollegeInvest savings account free of charge. Additionally, Governor Polis and CDPHE highlighted the opportunity for families already enrolled in the First Step program or who join the program before December 31, 2023, to access additional dollar-for-dollar matching up to $2,500 over the next five years.
"It is never too early to start planning for your child's postsecondary education, and I am thrilled that more than 10,000 families have enrolled in the First Step savings program and received the free $100 contribution from CollegeInvest. Right now, in addition to the first $100, CollegeInvest will match dollar-for-dollar contributions up to $2,500, bringing the total free contributions from CollegeInvest to $2,600. This exciting opportunity ends December 31, 2023, so I encourage all families who qualify to begin saving and enroll today,” said Governor Polis. “I am committed to supporting more Coloradans to achieve their higher education goals, and innovative programs like First Step are part of Colorado’s commitment to hardworking families and individuals.”
The First Step program was created to help Colorado families get a head start on saving for their children’s postsecondary education by offering a free, one-time, $100 contribution to a CollegeInvest savings account. The program is available for all families with babies born or adopted in Colorado since January 1, 2020. Parents or legal guardians of an eligible child can enroll in and access this opportunity until their child’s fifth birthday.
Additionally, CollegeInvest is currently offering families the opportunity to access free dollar-for-dollar matching up to $2,500 once enrolled in the First Step program. Once opening the account and receiving the free $100 award, CollegeInvest will match additional contributions dollar-for-dollar, up to $500 a year, for the first five years of the account. The opportunity to receive the initial award of $100 and the additional matching funds up to $2,500 is available to families currently enrolled in First Step or who join before December 31, 2023.
“When you create a new way to meet the needs of Colorado families it’s not surprising to see this level of participation and engagement,” said Director Paccione. “Whatever option a student is interested in from public and private colleges, universities, community colleges, vocational schools and apprenticeship programs—that child will be well on their way to make their dreams come true when the time comes.”
“First Step makes an incentivizing down payment on higher education savings for thousands of new and adoptive parents in Colorado and is proving to be a valuable investment in Colorado’s future,” commented Angela Baier, CollegeInvest’s chief executive officer. “So far this year, our matching incentive program is working exactly as intended. It has already added more than $5 million directly to the savings accounts of thousands of Colorado families. Participating Colorado families have saved an average of $3,292 on their own in the first year, establishing a strong savings pattern that will hopefully continue for years to come.”
The First Step program began on January 1, 2020, and is the result of a bipartisan law signed by Governor Polis and sponsored by Senate President Stephen Fenberg and Representative Leslie Herod. The program is funded and administered by CollegeInvest without using any taxpayer dollars or administrative fees.
“Several years ago we passed bipartisan policy to help kick start a college savings account for every child born in Colorado,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “Now we’re starting to see how even a small investment of $100 can contribute to long-term savings patterns that will put Colorado kids on a path to economic security. As we continue our work to make Colorado more affordable, I look forward to seeing how we can grow the program’s success in the future.”
"We're committed to making higher education and post-secondary education options more accessible and affordable, especially for lower and middle-income families and people of color; the First Step program through CollegeInvest is a great example of our work in action," said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. "I applaud the 10,000 Colorado families and counting who've taken advantage of the First Step program to prepare for their child's educational future. The First Step program makes it possible for the youngest learners, born or adopted in Colorado, to get started right away on their educational aspirations which jumpstarts a lifetime of student success."
The Polis administration continues to make historic investments in education and remains committed to removing barriers to education, saving people money, and supporting teachers and schools. Earlier this month, Governor Polis delivered the FY 24-25 budget proposal, which included historic funding for education opportunities, including fully funding Colorado public schools and investments in postsecondary education programs like Opportunity Now. Opportunity Now invests in innovative ways to increase Coloradans access to workforce development opportunities in in-demand industries, including education, healthcare, construction, and early childhood education. By increasing access to postsecondary education and training, Colorado can save people money, develop the workforce, and help more people achieve their career goals.
Last week, Governor Polis celebrated the voters' passage of Proposition II, which allocates additional funding to the Universal Preschool program. Since launching this year, the Universal Preschool Program has provided close to 40,000 families access to between 15 and 30 hours of free preschool.
To enroll your child in the First Step program visit: https://www.collegeinvest.org/first-step/