“We’re Going to Do This Together”

O'Brien, Megan
Callahan, Jason
Steensma, Joe
Children's Savings Account
Publication type: 
Working Paper

This paper presents quantitative and qualitative evidence of the relationship between exposure to a community-based Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program and parents’ educational expectations for their children. First, we examine survey data collected as part of the rollout and implementation of The Promise Indiana CSA program. Second, we augment these findings with qualitative data gathered from interviews with parents whose children have Promise Indiana accounts. Though results differ by parental income and education, the quantitative results using the full sample suggest that parents are more likely to expect their elementary-school children to attend college if they have a 529 account or were exposed to the additional aspects of The Promise Indiana program (i.e., the marketing campaign, college and career classroom activities, information about engaging champions, trip to a University, and the opportunity to enroll into The Promise). Parents who were both exposed to the additional aspects of The Promise Indiana program and have a 529 account are over three times more likely to expect their child to attend college than others, increasing to 13 times more likely among parents with no college education. With regard to the qualitative analysis, findings suggest that most parents who participated in the qualitative interviews have formed a college-saver identity (i.e., they expect their child to attend college and see savings as a strategy for paying for it). That is, they have formed an identity of themselves as having a child who is college-bound, and see saving as a path to paying for college. Moreover, there is evidence that Promise Indiana is helping to form a college-going culture among those enrolled. Overall, results suggest a community-based CSA program – Promise Indiana – is associated with nontrivial benefits for families. 

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Rauscher, E., Elliott, W., O'Brien, M., Callahan, J., Steensma, J. (2016) “We’re Going to Do This Together”: Examining the Relationship between Parental Educational Expectations and a Community-Based Children’s Savings Account Program.  Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

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