Liquid Savings and Expanding Access to 529s to Close the Wealth Gap

Liquid Savings and Expanding Access to 529s to Close the Wealth Gap

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Effective financial resources are only as valuable as they are accessible to those who need them. 529 plans, and CSAs broadly, are potentially game-changing tools for families positively impacting their trajectories of opportunity. Yet, only 4% of low income families currently use 529s.

If we can make meaningful change to this disparity through innovating the design of the existing 529 tool – allowing low- and moderate-income (LMI) families to better save for education and emergencies – we have a chance to make lasting, scalable impact for millions of families. Commonwealth conducted research with Pennsylvania families in order to better understand the barriers for LMI families to saving in 529s and how big a role lack of access to liquid emergency savings played, and gathered compelling findings on this new research.

What actions can stakeholders such as providers, state governments, and CSA programs take in order to help LMI families make the most of 529 plans? Join Commonwealth and industry experts from the Pennsylvania Treasury and the Alfond Scholarship Foundation for a discussion on the barriers LMI households face and what program and policy innovations can be implemented so that financially underserved communities can leverage 529 plans in order to build wealth while saving for emergencies.


  • Moderator: Gosia Tomaszewska, Director, Commonwealth
  • Jerome Barnes, Senior Innovation Manager, Commonwealth
  • Julie Peachey, Deputy State Treasurer for Consumer Programs, Pennsylvania Treasury
  • Colleen Quint, President & CEO, Alfond Scholarship Foundation

View the webinar