Connecting College Access and Success with the College Savings Movement

February 9, 2018

By Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations 

Organizations and communities interested in setting up Child or College Savings Accounts (CSAs) for local students will have better access to resources that will help them accomplish their goals thanks to a $270,000 grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to NCAN. The grant will support outreach efforts, including regular blog posts, webinars, conference sessions and connections to geographically relevant potential partners that will help members better understand and take advantage of CSAs.  

A 2013 study led by Associate Professor William Elliott of the University of Kansas has been important to the development of the CSA movement. This research examined 2009 data from the national Panel Study of Income Dynamics and its supplements, focusing on 512 families with incomes below $50,000 and 345 families with incomes of $50,000 or more. The analysis found that students from families earning below $50,000 but who had from $1 to $499 saved for college were more than four times more likely to attend college than other low-to-moderate income students with no college savings. Researchers hypothesize that CSAs can increase the likelihood of a child attending and graduating college because they instill the early belief that postsecondary education is possible, encouraging students to make choices consistent with college preparation throughout their K-12 education.  

During 2018-2020, NCAN will partner with the Campaign for Every Kid's Future (CEKF), an organization dedicated to the expansion of CSAs. With their assistance, we will share information with NCAN members about CSA research, how to find or set up CSAs, and examples of established and emerging programs, especially those embedded in larger college access and success initiatives. In exchange, we will share information with the CEKF community about the college access and success field and strategies to support students. NCAN will also stay up to date on pending state CSA legislation and support our policy partners to engage in related advocacy. 

Some NCAN members are already CEKF partners, including the Battle Creek Community Foundation, CORE Scholarships, “I Have A Dream” Foundation, and Inversant. If your organization is already engaged with CSAs or has committed to get involved, consider signing up with CEKF. As we know, there is no silver bullet for postsecondary access and success, but we want every NCAN member to understand all the emerging tools in the toolkit.  

“The college savings movement is growing across the country. Its roots come from the asset-building community, which is distinct from the college access and success community, but we share a deep commitment to supporting the same low-income individuals and families to build stronger futures,” NCAN Executive Director Kim Cook said. “By working together, we can ensure that CSA programs are well-designed and integrated with the other access strategies proven to increase postsecondary enrollment and completion.

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