Back To School: College Savings Program Reaches Milestone, Expands



The Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) Baby Scholars celebrated its fifth anniversary at Manchester Memorial Hospital with this month’s announcement of a partnership with the nonprofit Read and Grow to help expand the college savings program.

The CHET Baby Scholars is a part of the 529 college savings program. As a way to get parents thinking about saving for their child’s college education, the CHET Baby Scholars provides up to $250 toward when the parents enroll their child in the plan.

Since its inception, more than 11,000 babies in the state have been enrolled. The state has contributed more than $2.7 million to help start these accounts. Connecticut families have contributed an additional $92 million during the same period.

“We are always telling residents to start early and to contribute often to better prepare themselves financially for when their children go to college and CHET Baby Scholars was created to help them do just that,” said State Treasurer Shawn Wooden. “In just five years, it’s amazing to see the growth of this program and know the impact it’s having on the future of 11,000 children. With our expanded partnership with Read to Grow, we’ll be able to reach even more families and invest in their children’s future, which is Connecticut’s future.”

Shawn Wooden, Connecticut State Treasurer

According to a 2018 report by consumer banking company Sallie Mae, Hispanic parents saved $12,821 for their child’s college education. This was lower than the $15,633 saved by African-American parents and the $18,804 saved by white parents.

In addition, low-income parents are much less likely than middle-income parents to use college savings programs like the 529 plan.

Hispanic and black parents each had 17 percent of their college savings in 529 plans, about half of what white parents have in the plans. The report also found that 30 percent of Hispanic parents are more likely to put their savings into general savings accounts.

According to Sallie Mae, among Hispanic parents, 17 percent put savings into a 529 plan; 3 percent into a pre-paid plan; and 4 percent into a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA).

Read to Grow is a non-profit organization that promotes language skills and literacy for children beginning at birth. Its volunteers are in hospitals across the state. In addition to encouraging new parents to read to their newborns, the volunteers will also discuss the CHET Baby Scholars program and encourage them to sign up.

“Read to Grow is delighted about our expanded partnership with (the Connecticut State Treasurer’s Office).  This year alone, almost 25,000 expectant mothers and families with newborns will receive information through our nonprofit work that explains the wonderful opportunities of the CHET Baby Scholars college savings plan,” said Kyn Tolson, executive director of Read to Grow.

The CHET Baby Scholars-Read to Grow partnership will now be in 14 hospitals across the state.

For more information on CHET, go to: or call (866) 314-3939.

For more information on Read to Grow, click here.