- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A plan to give every Vermont baby at least $250 in a college savings account has stalled due to lack of funding two years after it was announced.

The program, which aimed to give $500 to children in low-income families, was modeled after a successful children’s savings account program in Maine that launched with millions of dollars from wealthy benefactors. But in Vermont, the sole donation - $25,000 - has come from Ernie Boch, Jr., CEO of Subaru of New England and a friend of former Gov. Peter Shumlin. An all-volunteer state committee has been unable to find a sustainable funding source.

The current amount in the fund would be enough give about $2.77 to every baby born this year and $5.55 to every baby in a low-income household, the Burlington Free Press reported (https://bfpne.ws/2t0t5PP).

“If we could do it over, it would be better not to model it on the Maine model,” said Shana Trombley, a former Shumlin employee who serves on the advisory committee. Other committee members said they could have done a feasibility study to gauge interest among potential donors before proposing legislation, or created a pilot program instead of a statewide project.

Shumlin, a Democrat, tried unsuccessfully to convince the state Legislature to fund the college savings accounts by raising fees on mutual fund registration. His successor, Republican Gov. Phil Scott, supports the goals of the college savings program and will consider it in the next budget in early 2018, said spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley.

In New Hampshire, a plan to give $250 to second-graders who complete a financial literacy course has been put on hold in the Legislature. Last year, lawmakers rejected a more targeted bill that would have given every kindergarten student in Coos County and the city of Manchester $100 in seed money that could only be spent on higher education costs after they turn 18. Half the money would have come from the state and half from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.


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