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What is Keystone Scholars?

Pennsylvania Treasury provides $100 for every baby born to a PA family on or after January 1, 2019. This investment can be used for your child's future postsecondary education expenses and will grow alongside your child.

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What is PA 529?

In addition to Keystone Scholars, PA 529 offers two tax-advantaged, flexible college and career savings plans. The more you save today means your student will need to borrow less in the future.

  • How It Works

    Keystone Scholars creates and funds accounts for all eligible children approximately four to six months after they're born.
  • How To Access Your Account

    Eligible families will receive a letter letting them know their account is funded and ready to activate online.
  • Don't have your letter?
    Parents can still activate their child’s account online 4-6 months after birth using the PA birth certificate number, date of birth and zip code.
  • Create a PA 529 Account

    Starting early gives your family the most time to save. With Keystone Scholars and a PA 529 account, you can view your education savings in one place.

How Can $100 Make A Difference?

Every dollar counts when it comes to paying for education. And the $100 investment from the Pennsylvania Treasury helps families jumpstart their postsecondary education savings.

A child with education savings is three times more likely to enroll in a two- or four-year college and four times more likely to graduate.

If a family puts in just $25 per month starting when their child is born, by age 18, the savings could grow to approximately $10,000.

Use Keystone Scholars Funds for:

  • Community college
  • Vocational and technical school
  • 4-year college
  • Graduate school program
  • Qualified apprenticeships

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Keystone Scholars Partner Resources

Help spread the word about Keystone Scholars to expectant and new parents with downloadable materials and toolkits.

View Resources View Partners View Reports

Frequently Asked Questions

Keystone Scholars is an investment in every Pennsylvania baby’s bright future, including yours.

Keystone Scholars provides $100 for every baby born to a PA family on or after January 1, 2019 to be used for your child’s future post-secondary education expenses. The $100 is invested and will grow alongside your child. Your Keystone Scholars account can be used for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, fees, books, and more at a vocational or technical school, apprenticeship, community college, or four-year university.

Pennsylvania Treasury creates and funds the accounts on a monthly basis with birth data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Keystone Scholars families receive instructions in the mail on how to view their account about 5 months after their child is born.

By viewing your Keystone Scholars account online, you can track your funds’ growth and link it to your own PA 529 account to see all your child’s education savings in one place.

The Keystone Scholars funds can be used once the child turns 18 up until age 29.

By the time your child is ready to use the funds, they must be the beneficiary of an individual PA 529 account to request a withdrawal, and they must be a resident of Pennsylvania.

Keystone Scholars account funds can be used for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, fees, books, and more at a vocational or technical school, apprenticeships, community college, or four-year university anywhere in the country and at many schools abroad.

Family deposits cannot be made directly to the child’s Keystone Scholars account. In order to save additional funds for your child’s postsecondary education, you can open a PA 529 account. Doing so when your child is young gives your family the most time to save and for the money to grow. There is no minimum amount required to open or contribute to a PA 529. Learn more and open an account at pa529.com. Once your PA 529 is open, link it to your Keystone Scholars account to see all your education savings in one place.

Keystone Scholars families receive instructions in the mail on how to view their account about 5 months after their child is born. If you are expecting or you have not yet received your new parent letter, you can pre-register here to receive periodic reminders and program updates.

If your child is six months or older and you don’t have your letter, you can still log in to your account using your child’s PA birth certificate number. Click on “Activate Your Account” above and fill in the information required by the prompts.Contact us if you need assistance.

Every dollar counts when it comes to paying for education. The $100 is meant to help families jumpstart their savings as soon as possible. But it’s also not just about the money. Research shows that when children have some money set aside for future education, their parents are more likely to expect them to go on to study after high school, and they in turn, are too.

Pennsylvania Treasury administers Keystone Scholars through its PA 529 College and Career Savings Program.

529 plans help families save for education and provide special tax breaks to account owners as defined in Section 529 of the IRS tax code.

The Pennsylvania 529 College and Career Savings Program (PA 529) offers two different plans. The PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) is a lower-risk plan that helps your savings keep pace with rising postsecondary tuition. The PA 529 Investment Plan (IP) lets you choose from a number of investment options from Vanguard. Over the past several years, the IP has consistently received top ratings from Morningstar in its annual review of 529 plans.

Find out more at pa529.com

By law Keystone Scholars cannot use any taxpayer funds. It is funded by surplus investment earnings from the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan. Philanthropic donations and other resources support targeted additional deposits like the Bright Future Booster.

The Keystone Scholars $100 starter deposit is held in a custodial account within the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan and invested by Pennsylvania Treasury. Its growth is based on a historical average of tuition inflation at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Yes, several states such as Maine, Massachusetts, and Nebraska have similar Child Development Account (CDA) programs. Pennsylvania was the first state to enact a law providing for a state-wide universal, automatic (opt-out) CDA program at birth. The Keystone Scholars legislation has been lauded by experts as a model for other states.

Pennsylvania Treasury has no information on who may be in a foster situation. If a child is born to Pennsylvania residents on or after January 1, 2019, there is a Keystone Scholars account in that child’s name. Legal guardians can register and access the child’s account as long as they have the child’s birth certificate number, birth date, and zip code of the address used at the time of the child’s birth. If the account has previously been registered by another parent or guardian, we can assist you in resetting the login information upon verification. Contact us at Keystone@pa529.com or 800-440-4000.

All children born on or after January 1, 2019 who are subsequently adopted by Pennsylvania residents are eligible for a Keystone Scholars account. If the child has a PA birth certificate, their account can be registered online using the child’s birth certificate number, birth date, and zip code of the address used at the time of the child’s birth.

If you child was born outside of Pennsylvania, please provide:

  • Copy of child's birth certificate
  • Copy of parent's driver’s license
  • Keystone Scholars Adoption and/or Overseas Birth Questionnaire (click to download)

These documents can be securely uploaded here.

Yes, as long as the child was born on January 1, 2019 or after and the parents or legal guardians are Pennsylvania residents (and were residents when the child was born), the child is eligible.

If you child was born abroad, please provide:

  • Copy of child's birth certificate
  • Copy of parent's driver’s license
  • Keystone Scholars Adoption and/or Overseas Birth Questionnaire (click to download)

These documents can be securely uploaded here.

If your child was born in another state or the District of Columbia, please allow at least 8 months for their vital record to be transmitted to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and processed. At that time, please contact us to receive your child’s Access Code.

Keystone Scholars accounts are available for all babies born to Pennsylvania residents on or after January 1, 2019, including adopted children. By the time the child is ready to use the funds, they must be the beneficiary of an individual PA 529 account to request a withdrawal, and they must be a resident of Pennsylvania.

To open a PA 529, the account owner must provide their Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) as well as U.S. address, and meet the IRS definition of U.S. citizen or resident alien. The 529 account owner does not have to be the parent or legal guardian.* 

While it is best to open a PA 529 early in life to give savings the most time to grow, a child with a Keystone Scholars account can open a PA 529 account at age 18 using only their own SSN or ITIN in order to utilize their Keystone Scholars funds. 

*All assets in a PA 529 account, regardless of the source, become the property of the Account Owner. The purpose of the PA 529 is to provide a tax-advantaged way to save for the education of the beneficiary, but it is possible for the Account Owner to take a non-qualified withdrawal for another purpose.

Research shows that when children have some money set aside for future education, their parents are more likely to expect them to go on to study after high school, and they in turn, are too. One study found that a low- or moderate-income child with school savings of less than $500 is over three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate than a child with no savings account.

But CDAs like Keystone Scholars are more than just a savings account. Researchers believe that educational savings has this effect through increasing motivation and educational engagement. In addition, CDAs have been found to reduce maternal depressive symptoms, improve parent-child interactions, and improve the social-emotional development of children. These effects are even more significant among low-income families.

For more information on the evidence base for CDAs, read this research summary.

Our commonwealth’s future economic stability and job growth will be stronger if more families expect and plan for their child’s future education, whether that be vocational training, apprenticeships, community college, or four-year university. Currently, Pennsylvanians have one of the highest student loan debt loads nationwide and many families find it hard to get started saving when faced with many other household expenses.

Our goals are threefold:

  1. Maintain high parental expectations for their child’s future.

  2. Cultivate a future-focused identity in children.

  3. Jumpstart family savings for postsecondary education as early as possible.

For children born in Pennsylvania after December 31, 2018, families may decide to permanently opt-out of Keystone Scholars. By opting-out of Keystone Scholars, your child will not be eligible to receive his or her $100 grant for higher education. By continuing the opt-out process, you are agreeing that you understand that opting-out of Keystone Scholars is permanent and your child will not be eligible to participate in the future.

By clicking the Begin Opt-Out Process, you will be taken to a page to enter important information including your child’s date of birth (DOB) and PA Birth Certificate State File Number needed to permanently opt-out of Keystone Scholars.

Begin Opt-Out Process

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Contact Us

Keystone Scholars
613 North Drive | Room G-06
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Ph: 800-440-4000

Email: keystone@pa529.com

Keystone Scholars is open to Pennsylvania residents born after December 31, 2018 and children born after December 31, 2018 who are subsequently adopted by a Pennsylvania resident. The child must be a Pennsylvania resident at birth or adoption and at the time the Keystone Scholars funds are used. The child must also be the Beneficiary of a PA 529 account other than the Keystone Scholars Account at the time Keystone Scholars funds are used. If not used by the beneficiary's 29th birthday, the funds will be returned to the Pennsylvania Treasury Department (Treasury). Funds in a Keystone Scholars Account will be invested in a PA 529 GSP account and will remain under the sole custody of Treasury until they are used for the purposes of paying for qualified postsecondary expenses at an institution of postsecondary education. A list of qualified postsecondary education expenses may be found at www.pa529.com. No additional funds may be contributed to a Keystone Scholars Account. However, families are encouraged to save in their own PA 529 account.