Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion

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Successfully advancing CSA policy will require analyzing the political context so that proposals can take advantage of windows of opportunity, framing CSAs as congruent with prevailing values, and crafting CSAs such that they are positioned as effective solutions to important policy problems. To this end, research documenting the concerning effects of the overreliance of student debt as a mechanism through which to finance college, as well as the potential of asset based approaches to potentially reduce high-dollar debt and improve educational outcomes, is perhaps one of the most significant developments towards national CSA policy. CSAs can be clearly understood to have potential to solve one of our most pressing problems: how to bring college affordability to enough prepared students to increase educational attainment without compromising future economic security—for the nation or for individual students. This framing of CSAs has practical fiscal implications, too; if asset-based approaches to financing higher education are seen as ways to reduce dependence on debt-heavy ones, then the ‘net cost’ might be understood to be smaller, particularly in light of the potentially negative long-term financial effects of outstanding student loans.

Related items: Briefs:

From a Debt-Dependent to an Asset-Based Financial Aid Model Institutional Facilitation and CSA Effects CSAs As An Early Commitment Financial Aid Strategy From Disadvantaged Student to College Graduates: The Role of CSAs How CSAs Facilitate Saving and Asset Accumulation Designing for Success Investing In Our Future Executive Summary

Building Expectations, Delivering Results: Asset-Based Financial Aid and The Future of Higher Education Infographics

College Savings Accounts: More Degrees, Less Debt The Role of Institutional Facilitation in Academic Success Reports

Examining The Canadian Education Savings Program and Its Implications for U.S. Child Savings Accounts (CSA) Policy


Lewis, M., Elliott, W., Cramer, R. and Black, R. (2013). Children’s Savings Accounts and a 21st Century Financial Aid System (Chapter 6 – Brief 3). In W. Elliott (Ed.), Giving children a financial stake in college: Are CSAs a way to help maximize financial aid dollars? (Biannual Report on the Assets and Education Field). Lawrence, KS: Assets and Education Initiative.

Children's Savings Account Brief Year 2013