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Children’s Savings Accounts and a 21st Century Financial Aid System (Chapter 6 – Brief 3)

Lewis, Melinda
Cramer, Reid
Black, Rachel
Children's Savings Account
Publication type: 

Successfully advancing CSA policy will require analyzing the political context so that proposals can take advantage of windows of opportunity, framing CSAs as congruent with prevailing values, and crafting CSAs such that they are positioned as effective solutions to important policy problems. To this end, research documenting the concerning effects of the overreliance of student debt as a mechanism through which to finance college, as well as the potential of asset based approaches to potentially reduce high-dollar debt and improve educational outcomes, is perhaps one of the most significant developments towards national CSA policy. CSAs can be clearly understood to have potential to solve one of our most pressing problems: how to bring college affordability to enough prepared students to increase educational attainment without compromising future economic security—for the nation or for individual students. This framing of CSAs has practical fiscal implications, too; if asset-based approaches to financing higher education are seen as ways to reduce dependence on debt-heavy ones, then the ‘net cost’ might be understood to be smaller, particularly in light of the potentially negative long-term financial effects of outstanding student loans.

Read the brief


Lewis, M., Elliott, W., Cramer, R. and Black, R. (2013). Children’s Savings Accounts and a 21st Century Financial Aid System (Chapter 6 – Brief 3). 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.

New Book Released

Today’s student loan system is in place because of a political compromise, and growing discontent with student debt may signal that this arrangement has run its course. While there are resources and organizations in place to help those struggling with debt, the time has come to consider a new direction for financial aid, William Elliott III and Melinda Lewis argue in “Student Debt: A Reference Handbook.”

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