Children’s savings accounts: a core part of the equity agenda

Education after high school, or postsecondary education (PSE), is an important determinant of individuals’ future opportunities, as well as their health and even lifespan. Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) are programs that aim to increase access to PSE by building parents’ and children’s educational expectations and a “college-bound identity” starting early in children’s lives. CSAs are a vital part of the equity agenda that remain critically important even as other strategies are put in place to broaden postsecondary access.

CSAs programs provide children with savings accounts and financial deposits for the purpose of education after high school or other asset building. CSA program designs, enrollment procedures, and financial incentives vary widely across the U.S. CSAs have been flourishing at the local, city, and state levels over the past two decades.

CSAs’ unique value comes down to programs’ financial investment in children coupled with their capacity to bring children and families into frequent contact with information about planning for PSE, savings, and high expectations for the future.