(CNN) – Public school students in Boston headed back to class this week. And as kindergartners started school for the first time, each one got a special gift – $50 in their very own savings account.
“Every child – so over 4,000 kindergartners today – get $50 seed money,” said Gosia Tomaszewska with Boston Saves.
The money is meant to get families started on saving for college. It started as a pilot project three years ago in 11 schools but has now expanded to all Boston Public Kindergartens.
“It kind of makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing,” parent and school system employee Esminra Soto said. “It helps parents start having those conversations early about planning for college.”
Each student is automatically enrolled in Boston Saves. They cannot touch the $50 until after high school. Even then, it can only be used for college or other job training.
Incentive payments are also available for parents to earn.
“They get incentives for linking their accounts, they get incentives for saving regularly,” Tomaszewska explained to WBZ.
The seed money the students receive is held at a credit union and will not grow for the child. Instead, any interest goes back to the program.
And while $50 doesn’t seem like a lot and won’t cover much for college, the goal of the program is something bigger.
“We are giving people a tool and money, but really what we’re trying to do is start parents and kids thinking about the future early on,” Tomaszewska said. “What is a better way to invest in the future of Boston, and Boston families, than investing in our kids?”
Boston Saves costs the city about $200,000 each year. Contributions also come from the private sector and nonprofit organizations.
Massachusetts is piloting a similar program that goes statewide next year.