Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion

By giving students and families a clear strategy for how to overcome cost barriers, college savings increase the likelihood of enrollment. The prospect of significant borrowing, on the other hand, does little to orient students towards college as a likely part of their futures.

Even small levels of savings make enrollment more likely. Specifically, 45% of low or moderate-income students with no account, 71% with more than $1 of school savings, and 72% of students with school savings of $500+ enroll in college.

On the longer-term challenge of equipping students to succeed, CSAs also show promise, largely through reinforcing a college-saver identity (expects to graduate and sees savings as a strategy for paying for college) that increases engagement and builds expectations.

Conversely, going through school without assets can compromise achievement. Spells of asset poverty prior to age 11 have a particularly negative effect on academic achievement.

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College Debt Brief Year 2013