Why Saving for College is Important in a Pandemic

Illinois State Treasurer's Office
2 min readSep 18, 2020

September 2020 Treasurer’s Note by Treasurer Michael Frerichs

COVID-19 continues to challenge us, especially children and parents as they determine how school and learning works best for them.

For too many families, however, uncertainty about the school year is not the only challenge. This pandemic’s economic fallout is felt hardest by those with only a high school education or less. Workers with a college degree have fared better economically because many jobs requiring a college education can be done remotely. As workplace changes and disruptions continue, we likely will see more high school students pursuing a higher education and more adults seeking retraining at a community college or university.

We have seen this before. During the 2008 financial crisis, job losses largely were borne by workers without a college education. As a result, high unemployment led to a surge in college enrollment. Today, we should expect succeeding in college to be even more important.

That is why our work to help families save money so their children can pursue higher education is imperative. Despite current uncertainties, educational attainment will remain a key predictor of economic mobility, especially higher pay, better health, and more security.

I understand it is difficult for many of us to continue — or even increase — contributions to a 529 college savings plan. However, Bright Start and Bright Directions offer flexible options for parents, family, and friends to contribute to a child’s account. We must not let these uncertain times overwhelm our long‑term goals. A child who knows they have a college savings fund is three times more likely to attend college.

That is a dream worth achieving.

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