Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas

SPRINGFIELD – To increase accessibility for higher education, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) has advanced a measure to allow the state treasurer’s office to make payments to Children’s Savings Accounts specifically for students from financially insecure households.

“Historically, Black and Latine families have faced systemic barriers to higher education including affordability, and we need to make sure the programs we have in place to help children are as equitable as possible,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Children’s Savings Accounts are a great mechanism for helping students afford education expenses, but we need to make sure families who need help get assistance.”

The Illinois Children’s Savings Account program will go into effect in 2023. Under the current program, applicable families will receive a seed deposit of $50. Senate Bill 3991 allows the state treasurer’s office to supplement CSA’s for financially insecure households with additional funds.

“As a parent of three children, I have spent years advocating for a statewide children’s savings account program. I didn’t go to college, but my son was lucky enough to receive a scholarship,” said Liliana Olayo, Co-President POWER-PAC IL and member of the Steering Committee of Financial Inclusion for All Illinois. “With a statewide CSA program that promotes equity, more families like mine will have hope for the future and an investment in their children’s potential early on.”

Additionally, the legislation also requires the treasurer’s office to collect more data on program participants to keep track of the community’s social and geographic makeup. This will help further ensure equitable roll out of the program.

“When kids know that their state and their parents are investing in a Children’s Savings Account, they are more likely to believe in themselves and their future. Through Illinois’ CSA program, we can restore students’ hope that has waned over the last two years,” said Amy Eisenstein, Coalition Manager for Financial Inclusion for All Illinois. “Now is the time to fund and implement Illinois’ CSA program with the equity measures included in SB3991, which we are thrilled has passed the Senate.” 

SB 3991 passed the Senate Wednesday and goes to the House for further consideration.