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CFED, Institute for Higher Education Policy Collaborate to Integrate Children’s Savings and Promote College Affordability

By Carl Rist on 05/04/2017 @ 09:00 AM

Tags: News, Children's Savings Accounts

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This week, CFED and the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) released a new policy brief that explores how state and local policymakers, Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program leaders and college access advocates can integrate CSAs into broader efforts to promote college affordability. The brief, Better Together: Policies That Link Children's Savings Accounts With Access Initiatives to Pave the Way to College, makes the case that combining CSAs with college affordability programs and social service supports can improve asset-building outcomes for low-income households, increase postsecondary degree attainment and support intergenerational mobility for low-income families.

These findings are based on a roundtable discussion that IHEP and CFED convened in October 2016, bringing together experts from a handful of cities with both active postsecondary access efforts and active CSA programs. The goal of the roundtable was to connect college access leaders, CSA practitioners and other experts from both fields to explore strategies to better serve low-income families and address college affordability challenges. An important component of this conversation was an examination of the value of reaching students earlier (i.e., as early as elementary school), which became a clear focus of Better Together.

In particular, Better Together urges state and local policymakers and practitioners to:

  • Design CSAs as tools integrated with broader college affordability initiatives, such as College Promise programs
  • Design CSAs as tools integrated with social services that address families’ holistic financial needs

This conversation comes at a critical time for both advocates of CSAs and those working to promote college affordability. With research showing strong connections between college savings, college aspirations and college completion, CSA experts are looking to enhance often-modest college savings levels with programs that provide larger awards to help meet the ever-rising costs of tuition. At the same time, college affordability efforts that have resources to help pay for the significant costs of college seek to broaden the college attainment pipeline by leveraging the ability of CSAs to build college aspirations from an early age.

As the US seeks to raise its overall rate of college completion in a competitive global economy, these efforts to expand college completion among students from lower-income families could not be more timely. To learn more about how CSAs can put higher education within reach, download Better Together today.

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