The study conducts an initial examination of school data and their associations with participation and saving in the Promise Indiana Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program. Data on savings were obtained from the onset of the program through February 2016 from Promise Indiana via the Indiana CollegeChoice 529 plan manager (Ascensus College Savings) and merged with administrative data on student outcomes for the 2014- 2015 school year. The primary research questions guiding this analysis is whether or not simply having a CSA, being a saver, or the amount saved is associated with lower absenteeism and/or higher reading and math scores. Given the importance of family income to both savings behaviors and academic achievement, we looked at these questions for the sample of students overall, and, separately, for the sample of low-income students (defined as free/reduced lunch participants). In this study, there is no evidence to suggest that having a CSA, being a saver (i.e., having at least one family or champion contribution), or the amount deposited are related to children’s absences. However, among the subsample receiving free/reduced lunch, having a CSA is positively associated with both children’s reading and math scores; however, this association is not found in the aggregate sample. In contrast, amount contributed has a positive association with the aggregate sample’s math and reading scores but not with the scores of children receiving free/reduced lunch. Further, being a saver is associated with reading scores for both the aggregate and free/reduced lunch samples. While more research is needed before policy conclusions can be drawn, these findings suggest that CSA programs may complement schools’ academic objectives.
Elliott, W., Kite, B., O'Brien, M., Lewis, M., and Palmer, A. (2016) Initial Elementary Education Finding From Promise Indiana's Children's Savings Account Program. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.