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Child Support Services Child Support Savings Initiative (CSSI) Program

The Child Support Savings Initiative (CSSI) Program is a partnership between Kansas Child Support Services and the Kansas State Treasurer to establish Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Accounts. The CSSI program is for children of noncustodial parents owing child support arrears or judgments to the State of Kansas or custodial parent. The CSSI program is available to any eligible noncustodial parent with no enrollment limits.

 

If back child support is owed to the state, for every dollar invested in the child's CSSI program account, two dollars of child support arrears owed to the state will be written off. The noncustodial parent must contribute at least $25 to open an account (per beneficiary). If back child support is owed to the custodial party, a dollar for dollar match/deposit is available. Interested noncustodial parents can call 888-632-7758 to determine if they are eligible.
 
To receive credit toward arrears, the noncustodial parent must make the current child support payment in full during the same month plus pay at least one dollar toward the arrears through the Kansas Payment Center. If there is no current support obligation, then the only payment required would be one dollar toward the arrears. 
 
Please see the Program Description below for additional information.
 

The Kansas Child Support Savings Initiative is a program designed to help pay down debt while paving the way for your child's higher education.

Read the transcript

 
 
Additional information and program requirements can be found at the following links:

 

 

Frequenty Asked Questions

If you are interested in paying off your child support debt and savings for your child’s higher education at the same time, our Child Support Savings Initiative (CSSI) is for you!
 
Who can apply?
Parents who owe back child support payments to another parent are eligible to open a CSSI account, called a 529 college savings plan.  You must have an open child support case with Kansas Child Support Services for a minor child.
 

Who is paying for the program?
This program is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, who worked with the Kansas Department for Children and Families to design a program that will help parents with child support debt.  Research shows that the earlier you start thinking about your child’s college or vocational training, the easier it will be for your child to get an education.  
 
How does the program work?
When you make a payment toward your child support arrears, after the first dollar is paid toward the debt, we’ll match the rest dollar for dollar by depositing money into a special savings account for your child—up to $1,000 per child!  
 
Or, if you deposit money into your child’s account, Kansas will reduce your child support debt by sending an equivalent amount to the other parent who is owed child support—up to the first $1,000 per child. 
 
In order for either option to happen, however, you must have paid your current monthly child support and at least $1 towards your debt for the month you are making additional debt payments or depositing money into the savings account.
 
You need to act fast, as this is a special program for the 2016-2017 school year. Best of all, if you fill out an application and open an account for your child, $25 will be automatically deposited into your account when you fill out an application and open the account.
 
What is in it for me?
You can double your money—up to $1,000 per child—when paying off your child support debt by having a matching contribution deposited into your child’s CSSI account, a 529 college savings plan. Continue to make child support payments towards your debt, and the matching deposits into your child’s account will grow up to $1,000. You will continue to lower your debt, and feel good about ensuring that your child’s future is a little bit brighter.
 
Why does the program use a 529 college savings account?
There are tax benefits to a 529 college savings account.  Unlike many other savings options, you don’t have to pay taxes on the money in your account as its value increases. Additionally, when your child goes to college or vocational school, they can withdraw money to use on qualifying expenses tax-free!
 
How do I apply?
It’s easy!  Simply fill out the two-page application.  Download the application here: http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/CSS/Documents/43543%20DCF%20529-Application%2011-29-16.pdf
 
Can I sign up for the CSSI for more than one child?
Yes, you must fill out one application for each child you owe child support for whom you wish to open an account. However, you can earn up to $1,000 in benefits for each child.
 
What happens when I reach my $1,000 per child matched contribution?
You can continue to make contributions to the account (and we hope you do!), but those additional contributions will not be matched due to limited funds.
 
Is there a limit to the amount of money I can put in the account each month?
There is no limit to the amount of money you can put in the account each month, but the contributions will only be matched up to $1,000 per child, for as long as we have available funds. 
 
Can my family or friends contribute to the account?
Yes, we encourage you to have your family and friends contribute to the account!  If you are meeting the program rules (see “How does the program work?”), these contributions will also be matched with payments towards your child support debt.
 
Will I get a tax break for making contributions to the account?
Taxpayers who file in Kansas receive a state tax deduction of up to $3,000 ($6,000 if married, filing jointly) for contributions to a 529 account, per beneficiary, per year.  This option is only available to the contributor who makes contributions directly to a 529 account.  
 
What can my child use the savings for?
Your child can use the savings for any qualified, higher education-related expenses.
 
Qualified expenses are any expenses related to tuition or mandatory fees, computers, required books, supplies, and other equipment, and certain room and board expenses.
 
I have no idea where my child will chose to go to college or vocational school. Am I limited to schools in Kansas?
No, your child can go to any accredited higher education institution in the United States.
 
I am not sure if my child will chose to go to college. Am I limited to four-year institutions?
No, you child can use the money to pay for any higher education expenses associated with any qualified education institution, anywhere in the United States, including public and private colleges and universities, community colleges, vocation and technical schools, and graduate studies.
 
What if my child does not go to college immediately after high school?  Will I lose my money?
No, your child does not need to go to college immediately after graduating from high school.  The money will be saved in the account for future higher education plans.
 
What if my child does not go to college?
Your child can use the money to pay for any higher education expenses, not just college.  If your child attends a vocational, trade, or technical school, the money saved in the account can also be used for qualifying expenses. 
 
If your child does not pursue higher education, the money still belongs to your child, but any withdrawals that are not for qualified, higher education-related expenses will be subject to a 10% unqualified withdrawal penalty fee. Your child has to be 25 before they can begin to withdrawal from the account for unqualified expenses.
 
What if my child receives a scholarship?
Your child may still use the money in the account for other eligible expenses that may not be covered, including any remaining tuition costs or mandatory fees, supplies and equipment such as computers and books, and certain room and board costs.  
 
What if I owe child support debt to Kansas, not to the other parent?
The Department of Children and Families has a program for you too!  Here is a link for more information: http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/CSS/Pages/529.aspx 
 
How do I find money to save?
Savings money for college is more like a marathon than a sprint.  You can make small changes to you spending habits that can add up to significant contributions to your savings account.  If you make your own coffee instead of buying it every day, you could save approximately $10 a week, which can add up to over $500 every year. If you cook your meals instead of ordering take-out two times a month, you can save $10-20 every month, which quickly adds up to large savings in the long-term.  Even small changes in the way you spend your money can add up to important savings for your child’s education.
 
How do I pick an investment option?
The program has a default investment option.  With the default option, your money will be invested in an automatic investment plan and it will be managed by Learning Quest. You will not have to think about it at all.
 
If you’d like to explore other options, you can learn more at the Learning Quest website: https://www.learningquest.com/content/individual_overview.html or by calling American Century Investments at 1-800-579-2203.
 
What if I have additional questions that were not covered in this FAQ?
Call the program hotline at – (888) 632 – 7758.  Our Savings Initiative Specialist, Raynora, is standing by and ready to help!