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All Maine-born babies to get $500 for college

PORTLAND (AP) -- A scholarship program aimed giving every newborn a $500 college savings down payment is going to automatically enroll babies, ensuring the money is available to all of the 12,000 or so children born in Maine each year.

The foundation started by the late Harold Alfond announced the changes on Thursday. Officials said automatic enrollment means parents no longer will be required to set up a NextGen college savings fund.

Colleen Quint from the Alfond Scholarship Foundation said parents will receive quarterly updates on the growth of the investment, which will become available for accredited programs when a child turns 18.

Since 2009, the foundation has provided nearly $11.5 million to fund nearly 23,000 grants. Going forward, the foundation hopes to spend $6 million every year on the expanded program.