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Promoting Children’s Savings Accounts


  • Low-income households need support to build savings for children’s post-secondary education.
  • Abt researched strategies to promote child savings account (CSA) programs.
  • Briefs were developed to inform stakeholders considering developing CSA programs.
The Challenge

Employment rates and earnings rise sharply for those with a post-secondary education. However, the high cost can put it out of reach for many children; fully 97 percent of college students from low-income households are unable to cover their costs through traditional financial aid. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Child Savings Initiative seeks to identify and advance scalable practices that promote child savings accounts (CSAs), for post-secondary education. The program emphasizes aid for low-income families.

The Approach

Working with Prosperity Now, Abt studied engagement strategies, including using incentives within programs to support participation and using technology to engage participants and to administer programs. The results were compiled into a series of briefs.

The Results

The briefs provide insight into how CSA programs have been developed to engage parents, children and caregivers to increase enrollment and completion of post-secondary education. Significant input was received from existing CSA programs—such as 529 college saving plans, which offer significant tax benefits—and illustrate how various program design decisions may affect or influence progress towards these goals. The information is intended to inform and support state governments, nonprofits, financial institutions and communities that are considering starting a CSA program.