Coney Island

Council bill helps parents of newborns save for college

April 26, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New legislation approved by the City Council will make it easier for parents to start putting money away to enable their children to attend Brooklyn College and other schools. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas

Treyger, Adams pushed for vote on finance plan

On the heels of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s historic move to provide free college tuition for students from middle class families, the City Council has approved a bill sponsored by Councilmember Mark Treyger to put financial planning information more easily into the hands of parents.

On April 25, the council unanimously voted in favor of legislation Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) introduced in partnership with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams that will make it mandatory that parents of children born in New York City receive college savings plan materials from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

The bill also requires the Department of Education (DOE) to provide the same materials to parents when they enroll their kids in pre-K.

The legislation is designed to help families plan ahead for their children’s future, according to Treyger, who said it will raise awareness about the 529 College Savings Plan that is currently available.

The college savings plan is named 529 in reference to the 529 code in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules.

“Never before has postsecondary education been more important to the journey toward a successful career. Yet, as a former high school teacher, I understand that pursuing postsecondary education has also never been more cost-prohibitive,” Treyger said in a statement. “There are steps, however, that parents can take years before their children are ready to begin applying to colleges or other institutions that can make the acquisition of a postsecondary degree more affordable and attainable.”

Treyger taught history at New Utrecht High School in Bensonhurst before entering politics.

Adams said the new bill fits in with his overall effort to increase financial literacy for Brooklyn residents and decrease the amount of debt that families carry.

“Families who plan for essential postsecondary education expenses at the very beginning of the child’s life are setting themselves up for success, and that benefits the fiscal health of our greater society,” Adam stated. “Measures like these may not be flashy, but they have a tangible long-term impact on our local economy as well as our effort to reduce inequality.”

Under city law, borough presidents are allowed to introduce legislation in the council.

The 529 College Savings Plan helps parents invest in their child’s future education by providing tax savings incentives. Money invested into these accounts is tax-free. The money in a 529 account can be used to pay for tuition, books, supplies, equipment, computer equipment, and certain room and board fees.

Earlier this month, the state Legislature approved a state budget that included a provision fostered by Cuomo that will provide free tuition to State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) students whose parents make less than $125,000 a year.

The student must carry at least 15 credits per semester to quality for free tuition.