Our future is stronger with children’s savings accounts

A parent and her child stand in front of a city skyline. The child is smiling and wearing a graduation cap.
Photo: Courtesy of Prosperity Now

The following is a statement by Neal Hegarty, vice president for Programs at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Education is the single most important pathway to opportunity in our country. Research shows that adults with a postsecondary credential earn, on average, almost $1 million more in median lifetime income than high school graduates. That’s why, as a father, I’ve worked hard to save for my children’s education. I also care deeply about expanding educational opportunity for all children.

Saving for college is an important strategy for raising college aspirations, regardless of a family’s income level. That’s why the Mott Foundation supports efforts to expand children’s savings accounts (CSAs) to more young people.

CSAs are long-term savings accounts that are seeded with an initial deposit, typically ranging from $25 to $100. Over time, CSAs provide additional incentives to help families, especially those with lower incomes, continue to save for their children’s post-secondary education.

Because September is College Savings Month, the Mott Foundation and many of our partners have highlighted the growing number of CSA programs in the United States. Since 2014, more than 50 new CSA initiatives have been launched in cities and states around the country.

The programs reflect various models. States like Maine, Pennsylvania and Nebraska are either already seeding college savings accounts for all newborns or have plans to do so. At the local level, large cities like San Francisco and St. Louis, as well as smaller communities, like Wabash, Indiana, are opening CSAs for incoming kindergarten students. What these and other programs have in common is a commitment to building savings, raising college aspirations, and strengthening the future of their states and communities.

As both a parent and someone who is dedicated to educational equity, I’ve seen how the act of saving for the future — no matter the amount — raises kids’ expectations of themselves and their education. Saving creates a sense of hope that post-secondary education is a real possibility. I believe our future is stronger with CSAs for kids. So, please join me in learning more about CSAs and exploring how they could strengthen your community.

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