Young boy and grandfather saving money in piggy bank

Every year, MEFA and Fidelity go out into the community and bring the concept of saving for college to life through the U.Fund Dreams Tour. This tour is in its 7th year and has become an attraction for many young students and families who attend popular community events such as WGBH Fun Fest, Topsfield Fair, and HubBub Boston Book Festival.  Today, we’re going behind the scenes to talk with Michael who has worked the U.Fund Dreams Tour for two years. Here’s a glimpse of what he’s learned about what’s on the mind of parents and children as they experience the Dreams Tour.

Penny: Every day we hear stories about students working to pay back college loans, which makes the message of saving early for college that more important. When you were young, did the idea of saving for college ever come up during your kitchen table conversations?

Michael: Saving for college didn’t come up at the kitchen table as early as it should have. By the time we were thinking about it as a family, the burden was left to me to pay for it on my own. If we had started thinking about saving for college when I was a child, I would have had some help with the cost. And any little bit helps.

Penny: As a recent college graduate, what words of wisdom would you give a family of young children in terms of being planful and saving for college?

Michael: Start as soon as possible, and put away anything you can. One month may be $100, and another $15, but slowly contributing adds up fast. Even saving $1,000 or $2,000 in total would significantly help with textbooks and fees!

Penny: The main goal of the U.Fund Dreams Tour is to be in front of families and kids to share the college savings message and help families take action and begin saving. How is that message received? What are the reactions you get from families when you discuss saving for college?

Michael: People usually respond to our message in one of three ways; being overwhelmed in thinking they don’t have enough money, thinking they should start, but don’t know how or when, or have already started saving. We encourage families who are already saving to continue to do so, and tell people who haven’t yet started about how easy it is to begin saving. People are pleasantly surprised when they learn how easy it is to start a savings plan.

Penny: What was the most interesting question or conversation you had with a parent on saving for college?

Michael: One parent had a 13-year-old determined to go to Harvard and become a doctor. Neither parent had been to college, and they were extremely proud of their daughter for having such big dreams. The parents were happy to find out that saving for their daughter’s future wasn’t as complicated as they thought.

Michael has been a brand ambassador for the U.Fund Dreams Tour for the past two years, and has stepped up into a leadership role this year as Assistant Tour Manager. He is attending North Shore Community College and is studying Marketing. His passion is to create a positive impact in people’s lives, and working with MEFA and Fidelity is giving him the experience he needs to achieve his dreams.