By Lisa Groen
Senior Writer, Utah Educational Savings Plan
January 19, 2015
More than 50 years ago, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and spoke the words, “I have a dream,” he contrasted racial injustice with the U.S. Constitution’s promise of equality and opportunity for all. He called for change, including equal access to education.
As the nation’s college savings plans continue to work to ensure that King’s dream of equal access is fully realized, they can rely on encouraging data that lends understanding to what may help children attain a college education. William Elliott, a researcher on the topic of children’s savings accounts (CSAs), reports that when children have savings accounts in their names, they are more likely to attend college, regardless of their parents’ personal savings and net worth. A child with as little as $1 to $499 in a CSA is 3 times more likely to enroll and 2.5 times more likely to graduate from college.* This suggests that designating a savings account for a child’s future college expenses, regardless of the amount saved, may be vital to academic attainment—important information for families considering opening a 529 college savings account.
Charitable foundations have begun to take note, turning their attention to the creation of CSAs to help more children form college-saver identities. One such effort underway is being led by the “I Have A Dream” Foundation, which helps children from low-income communities achieve their potential by promoting high school graduation and financial support for college through the creation of CSAs.
Designating savings in a child’s name may be a powerful tool in getting more children to college, a key to achieving King’s dream.
* Elliott, W. “Small-Dollar Children’s Savings Accounts and Children’s College Outcomes,” Children & Youth Services Review, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp. 572-585, March, 2013.
About the Author
Lisa Groen is senior writer for the Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP), Utah’s official 529 savings plan.. UESP offers multiple investment options, low fees, and requires no minimum contributions.
Read UESP’s Program Description for more information and consider all investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses before investing. Call 800.418.2551 for a copy of the Program Description or visit uesp.org.
Investments in UESP are not guaranteed by UESP, the Utah State Board of Regents, the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA), or any other state or federal agency. However, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance is provided for the FDIC-insured savings account. Please read the Program Description to learn about the FDIC-insured savings account. Your investment could lose value.
Non-Utah taxpayers and residents: You should determine whether the state in which you or your beneficiary pays taxes or lives offers a 529 plan that provides state tax or other benefits not otherwise available to you by investing in UESP. You should consider such state tax treatment and benefits, if any, before investing in UESP.