Treasurer Garrity, Senator Yaw and Center for Rural Pennsylvania announce results of PA 529 report

The report focused on differences between rural and urban PA 529 account holders

Harrisburg, Pa – Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board Chair Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), Center for Rural Pennsylvania Vice Chair Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-121), and Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Dr. Kyle C Kopko today announced the results of a study that analyzed the differences in how rural counties use and benefit from the PA 529 College & Career Savings Program compared to urban counties.

The analysis, conducted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury, concluded that PA 529 account beneficiaries in urban counties have more post-secondary education savings than rural account beneficiaries, even after accounting for different ones statistical factors. Treasurer Garrity said the report shows the importance of emphasizing outreach to rural counties throughout Pennsylvania, which is something she has focused on since taking office.

“Every Pennsylvanian deserves access to quality post-secondary education—whether it’s a four-year university, community college, technical school or apprenticeship,” said Treasurer Garrity. “This report shows we are doing the right thing by increasing our reach in our rural counties that are all too often forgotten in Harrisburg. As a lifelong resident of Bradford County, one of our most rural counties, I am committed to ensuring every corner of the state understands the benefits of PA 529. I have visited every county in Pennsylvania over the past two years and I always speak about the benefits of PA 529 and how saving with PA 529 can help families achieve their educational goals.”

Between January 2018 and March 2022, more than 60 percent of all contributions to PA 529 accounts went to PA 529 Investment Plan (IP) accounts in the 19 counties defined as urban by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

“The Center for Rural Pennsylvania was pleased to work with the Treasury Department to analyze its data and release this new research,” said Chair Sen. Yaw. “This report will help raise rural residents’ awareness of PA 529 accounts and how these accounts can be useful for them to save for future education and training needs.”

“As a former teacher, I know how important a quality education is to a student’s long-term success,” said Vice Chairman Rep. Pashinski. “PA 529 savings accounts can make quality post-secondary education affordable and affordable for more families.”

“The data presented in this report provide several important insights,” said Dr. Kyle C. Kopko, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. “Principal among them is the finding that there is a gap in the contribution levels of 529 plans between rural and urban accountholders — even after accounting for a number of statistical factors that may affect contributions.”

The report “Differences in Rural and Urban PA 529 Education Savings Accounts, 2018-2022” also found a sharp increase in PA 529 contribution amounts in the third and fourth quarters of 2021. This followed moves by the US Treasury Department to offer advances on the Child Tax Credit, which allows parents who jointly file less than $400,000 to receive a portion of their CTC reimbursement as monthly checks. However, the report concluded that more evidence is needed on whether these policy changes contributed to the surge.

To better reach rural communities across the Commonwealth, the Treasury expanded its outreach team in 2022, adding a Director of Outreach and Marketing and creating three regionally based outreach positions. The outreach team attends county fairs, senior citizen fairs, legislative programs and other events to connect directly with people. They also connect with community organizations and educational institutions to build stronger partnerships.

The Keystone Scholars program has helped create new PA 529 accounts for families in rural counties. Keystone Scholars is making a $100 investment available to every baby born or adopted by families in Pennsylvania on or after January 1, 2019, without using any taxpayers’ money. PA 529 account ownership has increased in nearly all rural counties since the program was launched.

PA 529 accounts are designed to help Pennsylvania families save steadily and strategically for future education expenses — including universities, community colleges, trade schools, apprenticeships, and K-12 education — with significant state and federal tax benefits.

Treasury offers two PA 529 plans; the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP), which allows families to save on today’s tuition to meet tomorrow’s college costs; and the Morningstar Silver-Rated PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), which offers a variety of investment options.

Treasurer Garrity has made many changes to make PA 529 accounts easier to access and to boost savings for families using the program. She eliminated the minimum deposit required to open a PA 529 account and lowered the minimum contribution to $1. PA 529 IP account holders have experienced a federal fee reduction, while PA 529 GSP account holders have waived asset-based fees for the current fiscal year, and qualifying GSP accounts received a $100 deposit last summer made up of the surpluses financed by the GSP fund.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bicameral, bipartisan legislative agency that serves as a rural policy resource within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. It was created by Act 16 of 1987, the Rural Pennsylvania Revitalization Act. The center works with the legislature, educators, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and national, statewide, regional, and local organizations to maximize resources and policies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.4 million rural residents.

For more information on PA 529 accounts, visit

Media contacts:
Samantha Heckel, Press Secretary (Treasury Department), 717-418-0206 or [email protected]
Christine Caldara Piatos, Communications Manager (Center for Rural Pennsylvania), 717-787-9555 or [email protected]

Nick Troutman, chief of staff
Office of State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23)
362 Main Capitol Building, Senate Building 203023
Harrisburg, PA 17120
T: (717) 787-3280
F: (717) 772-0575