Minority and low-income children have many of the same aspirations for college as more advantaged children, but their enrollment and completion rates lag. This contradiction between high expectations and constrained achievement provides one of the more vivid illustrations of failure of the education path to act as the great equalizer. Addressing the educational challenges facing disadvantaged children will require innovations that can create greater equality of opportunity, such that their innate talents and academic effort translate into meaningful access to college. Evidence points to differences in asset accumulation as part of the key to explaining educational gaps. Children’s savings for school, even at very low levels, may empower low-income high school graduates to enter and succeed in college. Some of these effects may be a result of children’s changed engagement with institutions, which they see as supportive of their aspirations and consistent with their normative expectations. Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) can be a step toward changing the educational trajectories of disadvantaged, but talented, children in the U.S.
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Elliott, W. & Rauscher, E. (2013). From disadvantaged students to college graduates: The role of CSAs (Chapter 4 - Brief). In W. Elliott (Ed.), Giving children a financial stake in college: Are CSAs a way to help maximize financial aid dollars? (Biannual Report of the Assets and Education Field). Lawrence, KS: Assets and Education Initiative.