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City launches program to help kids save for college

San Francisco has become the first city in the nation to assist students in paying for a college education.

Kindergarten to College is a new program launched by the city that will give 1,200 kindergarteners a special trust account with at least $50 in taxpayer funds in it that can only be used to finance post-secondary education, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Lower-income students who qualify for the federal government's free or reduced-price lunch program that are also recipients of the trust accounts will receive $100.

Part of the plan is to have corporations, nonprofit groups and other organizations offer matching incentives to encourage children and their families to save for college. EARN, a local nonprofit specializing in micro loans and financial services for low-income workers, has committed to contributing $100 to every student whose family also saves $100 during the first years of the program. The San Francisco Foundation will make additional matches for parents who enroll in financial education classes and make recurring deposits. Citibank has agreed to set up the accounts at no cost to the students or parents.

Roughly 25 percent of kindergarteners at 18 elementary schools will receive the accounts, with a focus on low-income neighborhoods, according to the San Francisco Examiner. The $250,000 program was nearly killed during the city's summer budget negotiations.

City officials expect to have the accounts open and funded for the recipients and their families by Dec. 1.

The program will continue to roll out over the next three years, covering the entire kindergarten class by that time.