This paper examines an innovative college savings program for public elementary school children. The project is based on the proposition that children will gain financial knowledge and be more likely to view college as an attainable goal because they are accumulating savings to help pay for higher education. As the latest in a long history of school-based savings programs, this program pioneers the idea of matched savings in which children and family savings in the students’ accounts are matched one to one up to a maximum of $3,500. Findings suggest that the principal, teachers, children, and their families are enthusiastic about the program. Saving patterns show that families can save, but low levels and patterns of saving suggest that structures that compel regular saving and boost saving rates would improve saving rates and regularity. The program successfully teaches financial education through an after-school club, but it has been more difficult to incorporate it into the classroom. Universal children’s savings accounts may circumvent some of the limitations of this program, although more research is required to assess what program components are most effective.
Subsequent publication: Sherraden, M. S., Johnson, L., Elliott, W., III, Porterfield, S., & Rainford, W. (2007). School-based children’s saving accounts for college: The I Can Save program. Children & Youth Services Review, 29(3), 294–312. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2006.07.008
Project: I can Save