NU Online News Service, Sept. 16, 2:05 p.m. – Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass., is setting up a $1 billion life insurance program to protect the ability of children of low-income workers to attend college.

MassMutual’s new LifeBridge program will award up to 20,000 term life policies with $50,000 death benefits. MassMutual polices will pay the premiums for each policy for up to 10 years.

If an insured parent dies during the 10-year term, MassMutual will pay the death benefit to a trust established for the benefit of the children named as beneficiaries. The trust will use the cash solely to pay for the children’s school expenses.

MassMutual is offering program coverage to healthy parents or guardians of children between the ages of 18 and 39. Successful applicants must be their households’ primary financial providers, show that they have been working steadily for at least two years, and qualify for the federal earned income tax credit.

MassMutual is introducing the program in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and North Carolina this year and it hopes to expand to other states in 2003.