Cuyahoga County's College Savings Program

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PolitiFact Ohio (CFED)
By: Tom Feran
June 3, 2013

Ed FitzGerald says Cuyahoga County's college savings program is the first to guarantee an account for every child entering kindergarten

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald highlighted the work of his administration and the importance of investing in the future when he launched his campaign for governor in April.

The Lakewood Democrat put both elements together in his kickoff speech by talking about education.

"Just last night, ladies and gentlemen," he said, "we passed a program to guarantee a college savings account for every single child who enters kindergarten in this county -- the first county in the United States to do so. The first one."

PolitiFact Ohio was surprised by the statement, because we had looked previously at the College Savings Account Program.

Advanced by FitzGerald in November and approved by the County Council in April, the program will establish a $100 college-savings account for every new kindergarten student who lives in Cuyahoga County.

We knew the program was similar to San Francisco's Kindergarten to College initiative -- and previous coverage indicated FitzGerald knew it. San Francisco's effort was developed with the Corporation for Enterprise Development, which said about a dozen other communities nationwide have set up savings account programs for children.

We asked FitzGerald's campaign how he backed up the statement that Cuyahoga was "the first county in the United States to do so."

They cited one of the Truth-O-Meter's guiding principles, that words matter.

FitzGerald specifically said Cuyahoga County's program guarantees a college savings account "for every single child who enters kindergarten in this county."

By "every single child," he meant that the program covers children entering kindergarten in public, private and parochial schools -- about 15,000 pupils a year.

San Francisco's program, created in 2010, is similar but more restricted. It does not cover every child. The consolidated city-county program establishes a $50 savings account only for children entering kindergarten in public schools -- about 4,500 pupils a year.

The Corporation for Enterprise Development, the Washington nonprofit that promotes saving and protecting assets and led the development of child savings programs, said no other program nationwide is on the scale established in Cuyahoga County. The county program is the nation's largest.

FitzGerald said that the Cuyahoga County College Savings Account Program is the first county program in the nation "to guarantee a college savings account for every single child who enters kindergarten."

The statement is accurate. Though additional information gives a fuller picture, it is not needed for accuracy, even in the context of a political speech. The statement was not misleading.

We rate it True.

http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2013/jun/03/ed-fitzgerald/ed-fitzgerald-says-cuyahoga-countys-college-saving/

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