Pilot program will help young high school students understand the financial opportunities available to them

U.S. Rep John Carney plans on introducing new legislation to help students plan financially for college.

The proposed Higher Education Savings Accounts Act would form a pilot study creating individualized education savings accounts for eligible high school students within the Pell grant program.

“While the federal government provides billions of dollars in student aid, many students and their families remain unaware of these benefits until it’s too late,” Carney said.

The Higher Education Savings Account program would show students the investment that their government is willing to make in them, earlier in their high school careers.

With these accounts students will be able to keep track of how much Pell Grant money they are eligible for. The Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, doesn't have to be paid back, and the amount of a Pell Grant is determined by a students financial need.

Carney said this plan will help families prepare better for the future opposed to finding out how funding works when they're juniors or seniors.

By doing so, Carney said it creates an incentive for students to take courses and make decisions in high school that will lead to success in college or a career. For example, students could select classes that will count as both high school and college credits.

The program would also provide additional support and information to those students facing the greatest challenges in accessing higher education.

Eligible students include freshman and sophomores who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program under the Richard B. Russell School Lunch Act, and meet certain academic standards.

Rep. Carney said the specifics of the account will be determined by the Delaware Department of Education if it’s approved by the House and Senate.

“We’d like [the department of education] to focus obviously on income eligible students as well as high achieving students as a start,” Carney said. “Those are the broad parameters that we’re giving the department of education but they would design the pilot and how it would work.”