The Financial Literacy Council of Greater Hamilton County (FLCGHC) has announced that it will be holding informational meetings on the Availa Kares College Savings Program in April for families with students completing Kindergarten in Hamilton County this spring. Information will be sent home with students in the next few weeks to provide a deeper understanding of the Availa Kares program including a schedule of upcoming informational meeting dates.
The FLCGHC announced back in August 2018 that it was launching the Availa Kares College Savings Program which is the first county-wide program of its kind in the nation. Availa Bank, based out of Carroll, Iowa, with two locations in Hamilton County, was announced as the primary sponsor of the program. They will initially fund each student’s 529 College Savings Plan with $75. The Hamilton County Supervisors approved to add an additional $25 to each fund utilizing monies from the local options sales tax. Each 529 College Savings Fund will be opened with a total of $100 in the student’s name.
The program’s key points, according to Rick Young, President of the FLCGHC, include:
• Every child enrolled in kindergarten in Hamilton County at the end of the school year, beginning with the 2018-2019 class, will be the beneficiary of a 529 college savings account with a balance of $100. The student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) will need to complete the required enrollment paperwork to open the account.
• Throughout the course of the student’s K-12 education in Hamilton County, the account can grow through incentives earned in school.
• Monies will be deposited into the Availa Kares accounts following the completion of the school year and prior to the start of the new school year.
• Upon graduation from high school, the student has up to ten years to use the funds for post-secondary education, whether it is at a college, university or trade school.
• Each individual account is set up and managed through the College Savings Iowa 529 Plan. Families can stay up to date on the student’s fund information via online access and through a paper statement that is mailed out annually.
“Availa Bank is a community bank, focused on the communities we serve. We work with main street business, we work with farmers, we make profits for shareholders that, in turn, will allow us to fund causes like this,” said Jeff Scharfenkamp, President and CEO of Availa Bank. “We are proud and pleased to sponsor a cause such as this one.”
Availa Bank has donated around $2 million to worthy causes and the FLCGHC’s desire to establish a 529 College Savings Plan for the kindergartners of Hamilton County struck Scharfenkamp as one of those worth-while causes.
The mission of the Financial Literacy Council of Greater Hamilton County is to promote financial knowledge and skills among Hamilton County residents while also improving access to financial services.