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Investing in our future: Moving from adequacy to asset-building, and improving educational outcomes (Chapter 6 – Brief 2)

Author(s): 
Lewis, Melinda
Cramer, Reid
Black, Rachel
Project(s): 
Children's Savings Account
Publication type: 
Brief

Part of the explanation for rising inequity in educational attainment between disadvantaged children and their wealthier peers may be found in the different access to capital development—human and financial—afforded to these groups of children, within U.S. policy structures. Where wealthy children benefit from their families’ ability to make college a likely part of their future, low-income children are more likely to perceive increasing college costs as insurmountable burdens. Where wealthy families receive considerable tax benefits from participating in state 529 college savings plans, low-income families participating in means-tested public assistance face strict penalties if they save money. These inequities are manifest, then, in lower college enrollment and graduation rates for disadvantaged children, and we collectively pay the price in lost productivity and a constrained ability to compete in the global economy. 

To the extent to which evidence suggests that assets can alter these educational trajectories, CSA policy may be considered an investment in our shared future. CSAs would provide an alternative to current consumption-based welfare supports for low-income households and may help to close the gaps by using the lever of U.S. policy commitment to provide disadvantaged children with access to transformative asset development.

Read the brief

Citation: 

Lewis, M., Elliott, W., Cramer, R. and Black, R. (2013). Investing in our future: Moving from adequacy to asset-building, and improving educational outcomes (Chapter 6 – Brief 2). 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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