Be College Ready provides free school supplies, starts $100 sweepstakes for those who set up accounts

Oregon College Savings Plan, a state-sponsored program that allows families and students to open tax-exempt college savings accounts, is expanding its Be College Ready program this year, with the aim of helping students prepare for higher education.

Be College Ready started in the 2015-16 school year as a pilot program in five Oregon school districts, and is now available to students and classrooms — both public and private — statewide. The program allows elementary schools to order free folders, pencils and bookmarks, and in exchange the schools will be asked to distribute information to parents about funding higher education expenses.

"I'm happy to report we've already had one order for school supplies from Beaverton," said Oregon College Savings Plan communications coordinator Kaellen Hessel. "A teacher from Hiteon Elementary School ordered supplies for her classroom."

Additionally, community leaders can request that Oregon College Savings Plan staff give a presentation about saving for college. The Be College Ready program aims to help young families learn the value of saving for higher education early in a child's life using the Oregon College Savings Plan.

"When families start saving for college early on, they're able to make their dollars work harder for them," said Tobias Read, Oregon's state treasurer and a Beaverton resident, in a press release. "My goal is to make sure kids across Oregon are saving for college so that nothing stands in the way of their dreams."

On top of the financial benefits, research shows that children with as little as $500 saved specifically for college are three times more likely to enroll and four times as likely to graduate college, according to the Oregon College Savings Plan.

During the 2015-15 school year, Oregon College Savings Plan saw an average 42 percent increasing in savings accounts opened in participating school districts. Ten more districts were added for the 2016-17 school year.

When looking at all 15 school districts participating in Be College Ready last school year, there was a collective increase of nearly 19 percent of new Oregon College Savings Plan accounts being opened, when compared to the same timeframe the year before. In addition, there has been an increase of new account contributions of 29 percent, totaling more than $2.4 million, according to Oregon College Savings Plan.

To further incentivize opening a college savings plan, Be College Ready will give 100 Oregon families who sign up $100 each to put in their accounts. The program is open to all Oregon families with children between kindergarten and fifth grade, regardless of what type of school they attend.

Teachers and administrators can begin ordering free school supplies for their students, and parents can begin entering the sweepstakes, now at HYPERLINK ""

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