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Treasurer Goldberg Pushes College Savings Program To Reid Students
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:36AM / Monday, October 22, 2018
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The students were asked a number of questions about what they'd like to do in the future, and the treasurer has a program to help them get there.


Treasurer Deborah Goldberg's program is eyed to help people save for college.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nearly all of Reid Middle School's eighth graders could raise their hand when asked if they remember being in fourth grade. 
 
"That was not that long ago and yet here you are, 8th graders," Superintendent Jason McCandless said to the class on Friday. 
 
"Four years from today, you will be about 100 days away from graduating from high school. Four years from that, you will be looking at being 22, 23 years old.
 
The work that every single person in this school does is to make sure that  you are the person that you want to be, doing the things you want to do when you are 22, 32, 52, 72, 92 for those of you that live right."
 
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg was sitting on the stage in the North Street auditorium, joined by representatives from the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, the non-profit Inversant, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Mayor Linda Tyer, and City Councilor Melissa Mazzeo. A group of McCandless described as "high powered people" who came across the state in some cases just for the students.
 
Together the group pushed the SoarMA program, a pilot program in which Pittsfield is just one of five communities in the state involved. The program helps families save for college.
 
"We help your families save and understand what they need to do to help you," Goldberg said.
 
The program was developed in which the state will contribute to seeded 529 accounts begun by families in the state's Gateway Cities for college or trade programs. Funded through a public-private partnership, the statewide start an account of $50 and match a family's savings up to $400. Meanwhile, state officials will provide workshops and training to help parents prepare for college.
 
"What this is about is we are going to give you money," Goldberg said. "This is not a scam... We are going to give what we call a seeded college savings account."
 
Goldberg said "debt kills people" and the hope of this program is to help parents provide for the best future for their children without taking on so much debt. 
 
"We don't believe in putting parents down because they don't know something. We don't believe in putting parents down because of tough times and they may not have answers to these questions," said Charles Desmond, chief executive officer of Inversant.
 

Mayor Linda Tyer spoke of having economic independence. 
The program is being particularly aimed at the Gateway Cities because those tend to have lower incomes and the cost of college becomes a barrier. Desmond said that on average a person with a college degree will make $1 million more in the course of their lifetime than someone with just a high school diploma. He said each and every student is capable of achieving major things, but that's only possible if they can "push your self to the limits of your potential."
 
"Everything is possible from here if you think well about your education. You'll have more choices and opportunity," Principal Linda Whitacre said.
 
To do so, means to start planning now, according to McCandless. Tyer said education, either trade school or college, becomes the key to "economic independence."
 
"In order for you to have economic independence, to be able to afford a car, a house, clothes, cell phones, you've got to have a good job. The best way to have a good job is to do really well in school," Tyer said.
 
The treasurer was the city first to cut the ribbon on the brand new Taconic High School. But that is only a piece to the education puzzle. She then went to present at Reid because she knows that after those students graduate from Taconic, there is still more to be done. And she wants Reid students thinking about that now.
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