HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania’s 529 program was created to help families strategically save money for education costs in the future. They are guaranteed saving plans and investment plans available, and the state has always urged families to take advantage.

“It’s never too early or too late to start saving,” says Pennsylvania State Treasurer Stacy Garrity.

But Garrity says a new report shows not everyone is taking advantage. Between 2018 and 2022, a report showed 60% of 529 contributions went into investment accounts in urban counties, even though more than two-thirds are rural.

“That is a major concern of mine,” says Gene Yaw, Pennsylvania board chairperson for the center for rural Pennsylvania.

And the gap is major, too. During the study period, out of $2.5 billion invested into 529 savings account, 92 percent of that money came from urban counties.

“We’re talking about rural America we’re talking about things that change our lives without education you’re going to be left behind,” says Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, Center for Rural Pennsylvania Vice Chairman.

Garrity says the state has worked hard to make it easier for PA families — urban and rural alike– to use 529 accounts, including eliminating minimum deposits, lowering the minimum contribution to just $1, and cutting or eliminating several fees.

“With the guaranteed savings program what you saved today will pay for your future education,” said Garrity.

529 funds can be used by students of any age, including 4-year colleges and universities, community colleges, trade schools, apprenticeships, and kindergarten to twelve grades.

“There are really great benefits, and we know that children that have even a small amount of money saved they are three times more likely to go to some postsecondary education and four times more likely to graduate,” says Garrity.