WORCESTER – A college savings program the state piloted here two years ago has signed up only 100 or so families, but officials overseeing it are happy with the initiative’s overall results.

In particular, they were encouraged that participating parents had already put a combined $17,000 into the savings accounts they set up through the program.

Called SeedMA, the initiative provides $50 to parents of kindergartners in the Worcester schools to open a college savings account for their student, a step that studies have shown significantly raises the odds that child will one day go to college. The effort is being led by the state treasurer’s office, which intends to roll out the program statewide once the Worcester pilot is done next year.

After debuting in the summer of 2016, SeedMA just wrapped up its second year on July 1, said Alayna Van Tassel, the state’s deputy treasurer and executive director of its office of economic empowerment, who added that staff are still tallying the final family enrollments from 2017-18.

As of Tuesday, she said, there were about 100 signups in total during the last two years, although that number is likely to increase once the last few accounts are added, Ms. Van Tassel said.

Just from a statistical standpoint, 100 families is not many, considering there were more than 4,000 kindergartners enrolled in the school district during those two years, state records show.

But state and local officials involved with SeedMA said they didn’t set out with the goal of signing up a specific number of parents for the initiative to be successful.

"Quite frankly, the goal of the program isn’t just the opening of the account," Ms. Van Tassel said, adding that the ultimate objective is to "really create a college-bound identity in the city."

"I didn’t have an expectation of the total number (of accounts opened)," said Worcester’s school superintendent, Maureen Binienda. Just having the program in the city, she said, "gets families thinking about saving for college."

According to state records, the percentage of Worcester high school graduates planning to attend college increased from 82 percent to 88 percent from 2007 to 2017. During the same period, the average annual tuition and fees at a private four-year institution in the U.S. went up around 25 percent, from $27,520 to $34,740, according to the College Board, while the annual cost to attend a public four-year college or university increased from $7,280 to $9,970.

While a $50 contribution from the state isn’t going to put a dent in those bills, the purpose of SeedMA is to provide an incentive to families to begin saving when their children are young, and they still have time to gradually put away money. Specifically, the program directs parents to set up a Massachusetts 529 college savings account; contributing $50 a month to that account could result in a family having around $12,000 available by the time their kindergartner is ready for college, according to the treasurer’s office.

Ms. Van Tassel said officials in charge of the program still believe $50 is enough of an incentive; there are no plans to offer more. But they have tweaked SeedMA after observing the program encounter some challenges in its first year in Worcester, she said, such as making sure information about it is available in multiple languages and that enrollment opportunities are offered at schools rather than at scheduled locations.

She added the Worcester schools have been a "tremendous supporter from the beginning," and said that a third of the district’s kindergarten teachers received special training as part of the program’s roll-out.

"Anytime we were focusing on parents or kindergartners, we invited (SeedMA representatives to take part)," Ms. Binienda said. "It’s been a very nice partnership, actually."

While details about the future statewide expansion of the program are not yet available – "I don’t want to put a timeline on" that process, Ms. Van Tassel said – the state’s goal has "always been to create a statewide, scalable model" based on the pilot in Worcester, a city the deputy treasurer described as a "microcosm of the state" because of the diverse and challenging population it serves.

"The goal is to roll out statewide, and I’m confident we will," she said. "We just need to make sure that when we do it, we do it right."