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Free Money for College Savings

Mark Kantrowitz

March 04, 2011

State Grant Programs

Arkansas

The Aspiring Scholars Matching Grant Program provides matching grants of up to $500 per year to low and moderate income families that participate in the Arkansas 529 college savings plan. Contributions are matched $2 for $1 for families with adjusted gross income (AGI) of up to $30,000 and $1 for $1 for families with AGI of $30,000 to $60,000. Applications are accepted between January 1 and April 30 for matches based on contributions during the previous year.

Colorado

The CollegeInvest Matching Grant Program provides matching grants of up to $500 per year for up to five years to low and moderate income families that participate in the CollegeInvest 529 college savings plan. Contributions are matched $1 for $1 for families with AGI up to 200% of the federal poverty line and less than or equal to the state’s 2008 median family income. (For example, the income threshold was $43,512 for a family of four — two parents, two children — in 2010-11.) The beneficiary must be age 12 or less at the time of initial application.

Kansas

The Kansas Investments Developing Scholars (K.I.D.S.) Matching Grant Program provides matching grants of up to $600 to low and moderate income families that participate in the Learning Question 529 college savings plan. Contributions are matched $1 for $1 for families with AGI up to 200% of the federal poverty line. A $100 minimum contribution is required to qualify for a match. The program is limited to 1,200 participants a year, 300 from each of the state’s four Congressional districts.

Louisiana

The Louisiana 529 college savings plan provides an “earnings enhancement” of 2% to 14% of contributions based on the family’s AGI. The earnings enhancement is 14% for families with AGI less than $30,000, 12% for AGI of $30,000 to $45,000, 9% for AGI of $45,000 to $60,000, 6% for AGI of $60,000 to $75,000, 4% for AGI of $75,000 to $100,000 and 2% for AGI of $100,000 or more.

Maine

There are two grant programs associated with the Maine NextGen 529 college savings plan. Families can qualify for only one of the two grant programs.

The Harold Alfond College Challenge Grant provides $500 for Maine resident babies when their parents enroll in the state’s 529 plan before the baby’s first birthday. There is no income limit or required contribution. The program started on January 1, 2009.

The NextGen Initial Matching Grant provides $200 contributions to low and moderate income Maine resident families when they open a NextGen account. The family AGI must be at most $75,000 and the account must be opened with at least $50.

Michigan

Michigan previously provided matching grants based on MESP contributions, but the program was discontinued in the 2009-10 academic year. (Previously Michigan families with AGI of up to $80,000 could obtain a one-time matching grant of $1 for $3 up to $200 maximum for beneficiaries under 7 years old.)

Minnesota

The State of Minnesota Matching Grant provides matching grants of up to $400 per year for low and moderate income families that participate in the Minnesota 529 college savings plan. The matching grant is 15% of contributions for families with AGI of up to $50,000 and 10% of contributions for families with AGI of $50,000 to $80,000. A minimum $200 contribution is required. Participants must apply annually by May 1 of the year following the year in which the contributions were made. Funding is subject to annual appropriations by the state legislature.

Nevada

The Silver State Matching Grant Program (press release) provides matching grants of up to $300 per year ($1,500 lifetime maximum) to low and moderate income families who participate in the state’s Upromise College Fund 529 Plan. The match is $1 for $1 for families with AGI of $41,300 or less and $1 for $2 for families with AGI of $41,301 to $61,950. The beneficiary must be age 13 or under when the first matching grant is approved. Applications must be submitted between March 1 and June 30 of each year.

The USAA Distinguished Valor Matching Grant Program (press release) provides matching grants of up to $300 per year ($1,500 lifetime maximum) to the college savings plan of immediate family members of a wounded warrior or fallen soldier who participate in the USAA 529 College Savings Plan. The match is $1 for $1. The account owner (or spouse) or the beneficiary must be a Nevada resident. (The application form and materials provide conflicting information regarding whether both the account owner and beneficiary or just one must be Nevada residents.) The account owner (or spouse) must have been awarded a Purple Heart in either Operation Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom (service beginning October 7, 2001). This is a pilot program.

New Jersey

The NJBEST Scholarship provides a scholarship of $500 to $1,500 for the freshman year at a New Jersey college or university based on contributions to the state’s 529 college savings plan at or above minimum contribution levels. Participants must contribute at least $300 per year for four years to obtain the $500 scholarship. Each additional set of two years with contributions of at least $300 per year increases the scholarship by $250, up to a maximum of $1,500.

North Dakota

The College SAVE Matching Grant Program provides matching grants of up to $300 per year per beneficiary for three years to low and moderate income families based on contributions to the state’s 529 college savings plan. The match is $1 for $1. Families with AGI up to $40,000 (if married) or $20,000 (if single) may receive up to $300 per year for up to three years ($900 total) per beneficiary. Recipients must apply annually. Families with AGI up to $80,000 (if married) or $40,000 (if single) may receive up to a $300 one-time match per beneficiary. Recipients must apply within 13 months of opening the account. The beneficiary must be age 12 or younger. Contributions must have been made within the previous 12 months to qualify for the match. Only first 1,000 applicants per year who qualify will receive the matching grant.

The Children FIRST program provides a $100 grant to children born on or after January 1, 2011 who sign up for the state’s 529 college savings plan (College SAVE) by their first birthday. The $100 contribution by the Bank of North Dakota must be matched by $100 in private funds by child’s fourth birthday.

Oklahoma

SEED OK is a demonstration project that is studying the impact of initial college savings grants and matching grants on the amount of savings, college aspirations, academic performance and other outcomes. Approximately 2,700 parents of infants randomly selected to participate in 2007, with 1,350 receiving a $1,000 deposit into the Oklahoma College Savings Plan 529 account for the child. In addition, income-eligible families will get up to a $250 match per year for four years ($1,000 total).

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island CollegeBoundfund offers two college savings grant programs.

CollegeBoundfund Baby provides a one-time $100 contribution to the CollegeBoundfund account of every baby born or adopted as a Rhode Island resident on or after July 1, 2010. The child must be named as the beneficiary of a CollegeBoundfund account before the child’s first birthday or within one year of adoption.

The CollegeBoundfund Matching Grant Program provides matching grants of up to $1,000 per year for up to five years to low and moderate income families participating in the state’s 529 college savings plan. The match is $2 for $1 for families with AGI of up to $72,000 (maximum $1,000 matching grant) and $1 for $1 for families with AGI of $72,001 to $87,000 (maximum $500 matching grant). Applications must be submitted annually the before child’s 11th birthday.

Utah

The Fast Forward Matching Program provides matching grants of up to $400 per year per beneficiary for up to four years to low and moderate income families who participate in the state’s 529 college savings plan. The match is $1 for $1 for families with AGI up to 200% of the poverty line. Recipients must have no more than $5,000 in all their UESP accounts to qualify. The family must contribute at least $100/year to the participating account to receive the match. The child must be age 17 or younger. Funds are limited and are distributed according to the order in which the applications are received.

Virginia

The SOAR Virginia program provides scholarship support of up to $2,000 over 3-4 years of high school in the state’s 529 college savings plan. This is a pilot program for 2010-11.

City Grant Programs

The City of San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College Initiative (K2C) provides provides a $50 college savings account for children entering kindergarten in the city’s public schools. Low-income students (who qualify for the free and reduced price school lunch program) receive an additional $50 contribution to the college savings account. EARN, a San Francisco nonprofit organization that promotes savings by low-income families, is matching family contributions up to $100.


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