FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Community officials gathered with representatives from the Finance Authority of Maine on Tuesday to announce a new college education program for local children.
Pegged Fort Kids First-Future College Plan, the initiative will provide scholarships to help Fort Fairfield residents save and invest for college in Maine’s NextGen College Investing Plan.
The new program will provide any new resident of Fort Fairfield born after July 1, 2011, with a $250 scholarship grant in a NextGen account. The program also will offer any child entering kindergarten at the Fort Fairfield Elementary School beginning with the 2011-2012 school year with a $50 scholarship grant to be deposited in a NextGen account.
The town is the first community in the state to offer a college fund for its newest residents.
Beth Bordowitz, chief executive officer of FAME, said that both options will give families a head start on saving for college.
“With higher education expenses rising every year, it’s more important than ever to start saving and investing early for college,” said Bordowitz. “These new scholarships will help bring the dream of attending college one step closer for Maine families.”
To begin the process, parents simply have to fill out an application and bring it to the town office. Parents who already have established a college fund for their child still can participate in the initiative.
Town Manager Dan Foster said Tuesday that the Town Council voted to spearhead the Fort Kids First initiative on a recommendation from the Quality of Place Council. The Maine Legislature established the Maine Council on Quality of Place as a job creation and investment strategy.
Foster said the town wanted to create the scholarship program to promote saving and help people learn more about financial matters as well as to provide another way for residents to demonstrate their commitment to the pursuit of postsecondary education.
He said that NextGen was selected as the investment vehicle for the Fort Kids First–Future College Plan because it provides a convenient and easy way to save for higher education expenses.
“As the cost of college rises each year, the power of these scholarships and NextGen can’t be underestimated,” said Foster.
David McCrea, chairman of the Town Council, said the program will have a “meaningful financial impact on a young student’s future educational expenses.”
“Our hope is that these scholarships will provide that spark that will make young students think, ‘I can go to college, too,’ and will enable their parents to help make that goal come true,” he said.
The event was attended by school officials, parents, teachers, SAD 20 students and representatives from the Quality of Place Council.