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The Eastern Echo Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

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New savings program for students launches in Washtenaw County

My Future Fund is a new Washtenaw County program that focuses on the investment in students and their educational futures.

Operated by the Washtenaw County Government and in partnership with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, the program is structured around a children's savings account model.

Under the program, all elementary students at participating county schools will recieve a children's savings account that is held by the Michigan Education Savings Program. All accounts will have a deposit of at least $25. Some students may receive a total deposit of $500, with eligibility for this being based on household income.

As these are investment accounts tied to the market, the initial deposited amounts will experience a fluctuation in monetary value as the student goes through school.

After graduating from high school, students will be able to cash out the funds for help in paying post-secondary education expenses, such as tuition, textbooks, technological equipment and more.

My Future Fund will be the only entity able to deposit money into these accounts, so the program has been sharing information with guardians on how to open their own personal savings accounts.

"I think it’s going to raise awareness to opportunities for youth and families, as well as giving them resources to access college and career training and needs they have to go into a career path,“ Kelly Mickel, principal of Erickson Elementary, said.

The program was first funded in 2021 by the Washtenaw County Government. They initially used $2.9 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, later designating an additional $3.78 million from their general fund. The city of Ann Arbor has also provided financial support for the program’s first year.

The program is currently funded to provide new investment savings accounts for the next four years’ worth of incoming first graders. The county government and school district hope to continue this program for many years to come.

"I believe that by sharing with students at an early age that there is another resource for them, that the community is behind them ... hopefully that signals community-wide how important children are to us and that it helps start the conversation early," Sara Saylor, children’s savings account coordinator for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, said.

There is no required paperwork to receive an account; however, if one wishes to opt-out of the program, or if they wish for eligibility to be checked and verified regarding the additional $475 deposit, applicable forms must be completed.

Guardians of students who were enrolled in a participating elementary school in October 2022 will begin to be sent login information to activate the accounts starting this summer.