Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion

  1. "We're Going to Do This Together"

    This study explores the relationship between exposure to a community-based Children’s Savings Account program and parents’ educational expectations for their children. Generally, quantitative results suggest that parents are more likely to expect their elementary-school children to attend college if they have a 529 account. While for high-income parents, just being exposed to the Promise Indiana campaign was more closely related to parents’ expectations than actually having a 529 account, overall, exposure is correlated most strongly with parents’ educational expectations when combined with having an account. Furthermore, having an account is even more important among low-income families than exposure alone. Qualitative findings further explore parents’ experiences in Promise Indiana and suggest that most have formed college-saver identities.

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    Citation

    Rauscher, E., Elliott, W., O'Brien, M., Callahan, J., Steensma, J. (2016) “We’re Going to Do This Together”: Examining the Relationship between Parental Educational Expectations and a Community-Based Children’s Savings Account Program, Brief. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Rauscher, Emily, Elliott III, William, O'Brien, Megan, Callahan, Jason, Steensma, Joe

    Children's Savings Account Brief Year 2016

  2. Building Bridges, Removing Barriers

    Consider the following scenarios of three households that must use their varying resources to afford daily expenses and make ends meet: The Washington household's financial health is secure. When payday arrives, they use the money from their paycheck to pay bills and buy groceries. Fortunately for the Washingtons, they have direct deposit with a local bank, so the money from their paycheck is available for immediate use. Even though their bank is located just a mile away, direct deposit saves them from making an extra errand to cash their paycheck. Their account even has automatic bill pay so that their regular payments toward utility bills and auto insurance can be deducted in an easy and timely fashion. Since establishing automatic bill pay, they have never had to remember when these bills come due. They write a check to pay the rent and use their debit card to buy groceries at the store. There’s usually enough money in their account to afford the necessary day-to-day expenses; however, a bank-issued credit card can be used when money is short. When their car broke down a few months ago, the Washingtons took out a small, low-interest loan from their bank. Taking out the loan was easy since they had good credit and a longstanding relationship with their bank. With their current paycheck, they are able to make the final loan payment and save the extra money in their savings account. The Washingtons have been able to save $100 dollars each month for the last year, steadily advancing their financial health by accumulating savings in case the car ever needs another repair and investing in their future.

    Citation

    Friedline, T. (2016). Building bridges, removing barriers: The unacceptable state of households' financial health and how financial inclusion can help. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Friedline, Terri

    Financial Inclusion Report Year 2016

  3. Building Bridges, Removing Barriers - Executive Summary

    A majority of US households are struggling financially and are barely able to keep up with their day-to-day expenses let alone invest in their futures. Many struggle to pay their bills and utilities, they forego preventive medical treatment, they do not have savings to deal with financial emergencies, and they are increasingly relying on debt to make ends meet. Moreover, too many households do not have access to the basic bank or savings accounts that they so desperately need to manage their financial lives. Building Bridges, Removing Barriers proposes that financial inclusion—access to basic bank or savings accounts—can operate as a “bridge” to households’ financial health. A bridge is an infrastructural solution that offers safe passage over rough terrain and a connection to new opportunities. For households stranded on islands of financial struggles, a bridge may be a welcomed passageway to secure ground. Households may be able to afford their day-to-day expenses like rent and utility bills and save for financial emergences like an unexpected job loss or major car or home repair. Once on secure ground, households can advance on their journey more easily. They have enough money saved to recover from financial emergencies, keep their debt at manageable levels, and begin to invest in the future by saving for retirement. From this perspective, financial inclusion by having access to basic bank or savings accounts can have the dual effects of stabilizing or securing households’ financial health and advancing or mobilizing it.

    Citation

    Friedline, T. (2016). Building bridges, removing barriers: The unacceptable state of households' financial health and how financial inclusion can help. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Friedline, Terri

    Financial Inclusion Executive Summary Year 2016

  4. How student debt is helping to increase the wealth gap and reduce the return on a degree

    In a time when wealth inequality increasingly threatens the U.S.—our sense of fairness and possibility, the fabric of our shared democracy, and the institutions that are supposed to undergird our economic opportunities--and when these anxieties are voiced particularly acutely by students who contemplate their own futures and question the ability of higher education to act as an equalizer in society, the discussion around student debt has grown stale. These conversations, usually consisting of the same few voices, echo with researchers investigating questions that all too often seek to maintain the status quo rather than challenge it and that seem, to a public plagued with disillusionment that borders on panic, divorced from their lived experiences. Within these confines, proposed solutions tend to mostly comprise tweaks around the margins (e.g., income-based repayment modification), rather than fundamental reconsiderations of how to finance higher education in a way that will simultaneously strengthen the return on a degree, improve educational outcomes such as attainment, and reduce wealth inequality. In this brief, I seek to provide a fresh look at what America gets from student loans. This begins with shifting the conversation from talking about whether or not college pays off for students who have to borrow to shining a bright light on the equity of having to pay for college with student loans. I do this by bringing together bodies of evidence that reveal: (a) the amount of wealth your family has matters for whether you will attend and complete college, (b) low-income and minority students receive less of a return on a degree than their wealthier, white counterparts, and (c) college goers—including those who graduate—with debt have less wealth than their peers without debt. This not only has implications for borrowers but for their children who grow up with less wealth and who will then be less able to use education to climb the economic ladder themselves. Given this, I conclude that a financial aid system for the 21st Century must not only help students pay for college but also help them build assets. Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) work on many fronts, from early preparation to college access to completion and then post-college financial outcomes, to address concerns about the differential return on a degree and wealth inequality. However, in order to make CSAs a true tool for fighting wealth inequality, they must be combined with a significant wealth transfer. Possibilities for this wealth transfer might include such approaches as augmenting existing scholarship or grant programs, such as the Pell Grant program, with opportunities for early-commitment asset building or diverting funds now going to poorly-targeted tax subsidies. It has been estimated that CSAs with a wealth transfer could reduce the racial wealth gap in America by 20% to 80%, depending on participation and the size of the investment in these accounts. This pivot to asset-based financial aid could be the centerpiece of a new economic mobility system that makes good on the promise made to American children, that through their own effort and ability in school they can achieve the American Dream.

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    Authors

    Elliott III, William

    Children's Savings Account Brief Year 2016

  5. Initial Elementary Education Finding From Promise Indiana's Children's Savings Account Program

    The study conducts an initial examination of school data and their associations with participation and saving in the Promise Indiana Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program. Data on savings were obtained from the onset of the program through February 2016 from Promise Indiana via the Indiana CollegeChoice 529 plan manager (Ascensus College Savings) and merged with administrative data on student outcomes for the 2014- 2015 school year. The primary research questions guiding this analysis is whether or not simply having a CSA, being a saver, or the amount saved is associated with lower absenteeism and/or higher reading and math scores. Given the importance of family income to both savings behaviors and academic achievement, we looked at these questions for the sample of students overall, and, separately, for the sample of low-income students (defined as free/reduced lunch participants). In this study, there is no evidence to suggest that having a CSA, being a saver (i.e., having at least one family or champion contribution), or the amount deposited are related to children’s absences. However, among the subsample receiving free/reduced lunch, having a CSA is positively associated with both children’s reading and math scores; however, this association is not found in the aggregate sample. In contrast, amount contributed has a positive association with the aggregate sample’s math and reading scores but not with the scores of children receiving free/reduced lunch. Further, being a saver is associated with reading scores for both the aggregate and free/reduced lunch samples. While more research is needed before policy conclusions can be drawn, these findings suggest that CSA programs may complement schools’ academic objectives.

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    Citation

    Elliott, W., Kite, B., O'Brien, M., Lewis, M., and Palmer, A. (2016) Initial Elementary Education Finding From Promise Indiana's Children's Savings Account Program. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Elliott III, William, Kite, Benjamin, O'Brien, Megan, Lewis, Melinda, Palmer, Ashley

    Children's Savings Account Working Paper Year 2016

  6. Latino Immigrant Families Saving in Children's Savings Account Program against Great Odds - Executive Summary

    This study uses administrative records from New Mexico’s Prosperity Kids Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program and in-depth interviews with a sample of participating parents and children to examine savings outcomes and experiences for these low-income Latino families. At this point in the CSA’s evolution, 29% of Prosperity Kids accounts have seen deposits from families’ saving. As of December 2015, among families who contributed in addition to match or incentives, 54% have saved more than $100 in their account. The median total account value for these families was $345 at the end of 2015 (mean, $394). The median amount of family deposits is $123 (mean, $155), with median match deposits of $124 (mean, $139). Average monthly contributions are $12 (ranging from <$1 to $220). Average quarterly contributions were $31.

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    Citation

    Lewis, M., O'Brien, M., Elliott, W., Harrington, K., Crawford, M. (2016) Immigrant Latina Families Saving in Children’s Savings Account Program against Great Odds: The Case of Prosperity Kids - Executive Summary. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Lewis, Melinda, O'Brien, Megan, Jung, Euijin, Harrington, Kelly, Jones-Layman, Amanda

    Children's Savings Account Executive Summary Year 2016

  7. Latino Immigrant Families Saving in Children's Savings Account Program against Great Odds: Prosperity Kids

    This study uses administrative records from New Mexico’s Prosperity Kids Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program and in-depth interviews with a sample of participating parents and children to examine savings outcomes and experiences for these low-income Latino families. At this point in the CSA’s evolution, 29% of Prosperity Kids accounts have seen deposits from families’ saving. As of December 2015, among families who contributed in addition to match or incentives, 54% have saved more than $100 in their account. The median total account value for these families was $345 at the end of 2015 (mean, $394). The median amount of family deposits is $123 (mean, $155), with median match deposits of $124 (mean, $139). Average monthly contributions are $12 (ranging from <$1 to $220). Average quarterly contributions were $31.

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    Citation

    Lewis, M., O'Brien, M., Elliott, W., Harrington, K., Crawford, M. (2016) Immigrant Latina Families Saving in Children’s Savings Account Program against Great Odds: The Case of Prosperity Kids. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Lewis, Melinda, O'Brien, Megan, Harrington, Kelly, Crawford, Mac

    Children's Savings Account Working Paper Year 2016

  8. Saving and Educational Asset-Building within a Community-Driven CSA Program

    In this report AEDI presents three separate but complementary studies that analyze data from the Promise Indiana CSA Program Intervention. First, analysis of a survey conducted by Promise Indiana staff with families in the Promise Indiana target population examines attributes associated with knowledge and ownership of 529 accounts. Second, analysis of savings data collected by Ascensus College Savings on behalf of Promise Indiana considers patterns of deposits, asset accumulation, and account ownership by families who have opened CollegeChoice 529 accounts through Promise Indiana. Third, findings from interviews with a subsample of parents whose children have 529 CollegeChoice accounts opened through Promise Indiana are shared to provide some qualitative context for parental perceptions about college savings within this community-driven CSA program.

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    Citation

    Lewis, M., Elliott, W., O'Brien, M., Jung, E., Harrington, K., Jones-Layman, A. (2016) Saving and Educational Asset-Building within a Community-Driven CSA Program: The Case of Promise Indiana. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Lewis, Melinda, O'Brien, Megan, Jung, Euijin, Harrington, Kelly, Jones-Layman, Amanda

    Children's Savings Account Working Paper Year 2016

  9. We’re Going to Do This Together”

    This paper presents quantitative and qualitative evidence of the relationship between exposure to a community-based Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program and parents’ educational expectations for their children. First, we examine survey data collected as part of the rollout and implementation of The Promise Indiana CSA program. Second, we augment these findings with qualitative data gathered from interviews with parents whose children have Promise Indiana accounts. Though results differ by parental income and education, the quantitative results using the full sample suggest that parents are more likely to expect their elementary-school children to attend college if they have a 529 account or were exposed to the additional aspects of The Promise Indiana program (i.e., the marketing campaign, college and career classroom activities, information about engaging champions, trip to a University, and the opportunity to enroll into The Promise). Parents who were both exposed to the additional aspects of The Promise Indiana program and have a 529 account are over three times more likely to expect their child to attend college than others, increasing to 13 times more likely among parents with no college education. With regard to the qualitative analysis, findings suggest that most parents who participated in the qualitative interviews have formed a college-saver identity (i.e., they expect their child to attend college and see savings as a strategy for paying for it). That is, they have formed an identity of themselves as having a child who is college-bound, and see saving as a path to paying for college. Moreover, there is evidence that Promise Indiana is helping to form a college-going culture among those enrolled. Overall, results suggest a community-based CSA program – Promise Indiana – is associated with nontrivial benefits for families.

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    Citation

    Rauscher, E., Elliott, W., O'Brien, M., Callahan, J., Steensma, J. (2016) “We’re Going to Do This Together”: Examining the Relationship between Parental Educational Expectations and a Community-Based Children’s Savings Account Program. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Rauscher, Emily, Elliott III, William, O'Brien, Megan, Callahan, Jason, Steensma, Joe

    Children's Savings Account Working Paper Year 2016

  10. When does my future begin? Student debt and intragenerational mobility

    Higher education funding policy rests on the assumption that college graduates enjoy equal opportunities for economic mobility regardless of how they finance their education. To examine this contention, this study compares the time it takes to move up the economic ladder for young adults who acquired student debt and those who did not. Findings reveal that college graduates who acquired student debt take longer to reach the midpoint of the net worth distribution than college graduates who financed their education without student debt. In fact, an additional $10,000 of student debt - only one third of the average amount college students acquire - is associated with a 26% decrease in the rate of achieving median net worth. Even after controlling for key differences, acquiring the relatively small amount of $10,000 in student loans is still associated with an 18% decrease in the rate of achieving median net worth. This study also finds some evidence that student debt is associated with a slower rate of reaching median income. An additional $10,000 in student loans is associated with a 9% decrease in the rate of achieving median income, although these differences do not emerge until about age 35. These findings suggest that over the course of a college graduate’s lifetime, those who acquired student debt have less opportunity to move up the economic ladder than their counterparts without student loan debt. Findings underscore the inequity created by the current U.S. system of financing higher education.

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    Citation

    Elliott, W., Rauscher, E (2016) When does my future begin? Student Debt and intragenerational mobility. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Rauscher, Emily

    Children's Savings Account Working Paper Year 2016

  11. When does my future begin? Student debt and intragenerational mobility

    Higher education funding policy rests on the assumption that college graduates enjoy equal opportunities for economic mobility regardless of how they finance their education. To test this assumption, this study compares the time it takes to move up the economic ladder for young adults who acquired student debt and those who did not. Findings reveal that college graduates who acquired student debt take longer to reach the midpoint of the net worth distribution than college graduates who financed their education without student debt. In fact, an additional $10,000 of student debt - only one third of the average amount college students acquire - is associated with a 26% decrease in the rate of achieving median net worth. Even after controlling for key differences, acquiring the relatively small amount of $10,000 in student loans is still associated with an 18% decrease in the rate of achieving median net worth. This study also finds some evidence that student debt is associated with a slower rate of reaching median income. An additional $10,000 in student loans is associated with a 9% decrease in the rate of achieving median income, although these differences do not emerge until about age 35. These findings suggest that over the course of a college graduate’s lifetime, those who acquired student debt enjoy fewer opportunities to move up the economic ladder than their counterparts without student loan debt. Findings underscore the inequity created by the current U.S. system of financing higher education.

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    Authors

    Rauscher, Emily

    Children's Savings Account Brief Year 2016