Before College: Building Expectations and Facilitating Achievement

Lewis, Melinda
College Debt
Publication type: 

By giving students and families a clear strategy for how to overcome cost barriers, college savings increase the likelihood of enrollment. The prospect of significant borrowing, on the other hand, does little to orient students towards college as a likely part of their futures.

Even small levels of savings make enrollment more likely. Specifically, 45% of low or moderate-income students with no account, 71% with more than $1 of school savings, and 72% of students with school savings of $500+ enroll in college.

On the longer-term challenge of equipping students to succeed, CSAs also show promise, largely through reinforcing a college-saver identity (expects to graduate and sees savings as a strategy for paying for college) that increases engagement and builds expectations.

Conversely, going through school without assets can compromise achievement. Spells of asset poverty prior to age 11 have a particularly negative effect on academic achievement.

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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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