In addition to helping children finance college, much of the interest in creating asset-building policies for children is based on their potential for changing how children think and act. An institutional facilitation theory can help explain how assets may influence children’s expectations for college and in turn, their educational outcomes. This theoretical understanding can also guide CSA policy, to maximize the potential for positive impact on children’s educations.
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Elliott, W., & Sherraden, M. S. (2013). Institutional Facilitation and CSA Effects (Chapter 2 - 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.
A groundswell of interest in young people’s ability to understand and handle financial decisions has generated keen interest in financial knowledge and effectiveness of financial education. This study examines an innovative four-year school-based financial education and savings program, called “I Can Save” (ICS). Using a quasi-experimental design, the study examines quantitative and qualitative data to analyze program effects on financial knowledge. Elementary school children who participated in ICS scored significantly higher on a financial literacy test taken in fourth grade than comparison group students in the same school, regardless of parent education and income. Results suggest that young children increase financial capability when they have access to financial education and it is accompanied by participation in meaningful financial services.
Sherraden, Margaret. S., Johnson, L., Guo, B. and Elliott, W. (2010). Financial capability in children: Effects of participation in a school-based financial education and savings program. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32(3), 385-399.
This paper examines an innovative college savings program for public elementary school children. The project is based on the proposition that children will gain financial knowledge and be more likely to view college as an attainable goal because they are accumulating savings to help pay for higher education. As the latest in a long history of school-based savings programs, this program pioneers the idea of matched savings in which children and family savings in the students' accounts are matched one to one up to a maximum of $3000. Findings suggest that the principal, teachers, children, and their families are enthusiastic about the program. Saving patterns show that families can save, but low levels and patterns of saving suggest that structures that encourage regular saving might improve saving rates. The program successfully teaches financial education through an after-school club, but it has been more difficult to incorporate it into classroom teaching and to reach parents. Universal children's savings accounts may circumvent some of the limitations of this program, although more research is required to assess which program components would be the most effective in such a system.
Sherraden, Margaret. S., Johnson, L., Elliott, W., Porterfield, S., and Rainford, W. (2007). School-based children’s saving accounts for college: The I can save program. Children and Youth Services Review 29, 294-312.