New America Experts Praise Initiative to Fund Students' College Savings

The Dept. of Education's Demonstration Project Will Target Low-Income Students
Published:   May 31, 2012

The New America Foundation's Asset Building Program applauds the U.S. Department of Education's announcement today that it will invest millions of dollars into college savings accounts for low-income students. The funds will support a demonstration project to measure the impact of accounts on higher education access and success.

The College Savings Account Research Demonstration Project will commit more than $8.5 million to support college savings accounts for students participating in the GEAR UP program, which is designed to increase the college readiness of low-income middle school and high school students.

The project - using rigorous, randomized control design - will test 10,000 students given access to college savings accounts against a control group of 10,000 others who will only receive regular GEAR UP services.

Research suggests that students with a savings account may be as much as seven times more likely to attend college than students without an account. The Department of Education developed the program with input from experts at the New America Foundation's Asset Building Program.

"We're excited to see the Department of Education implement this type of forward-looking demonstration project," said Reid Cramer, director of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation. "It can inform future policy efforts that help us achieve our national college completion goals. I'm optimistic it will provide further evidence that access to savings vehicles can help boost college attendance and degree completion, and do so at scale."

The New America Foundation held an event Thursday, May 31 with U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA), the legislative architect of GEAR UP, and other education and savings experts to discuss this new initiative. For details of the event and to watch the full video recording, click here.

To interview Reid Cramer about this program and the impact of college savings, please contact Clara Hogan at 202-596-3368 or hogan@newamerica.net.

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