When thinking about the role CSAs may play in increasing college enrollment and completion, we need a broader frame than just helping children pay for college. Emerging research linking assets with academic achievement suggests that CSAs may be a valuable tool for addressing long-term barriers to closing the attainment gap—a potentially greater challenge in improving outcomes and equity. As early commitment financial aid strategies, CSAs may help to shape children’s college expectations, thereby impacting parents’ investments in their children’s education and potentially mitigating some of the effects of poverty on educational attainment. The potential for cumulative effects starting in early childhood and CSAs’ potential impact on post-college outcomes bolster the argument for including CSAs in the financial aid system and considering the role of timing in influencing financial aid efficacy.
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Elliott, W. with Kelchen, R. (2013). CSAs as an early commitment financial aid strategy (Chapter 3 - Brief). 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.