Asset Building Financial Inclusion Working Paper

Small-Dollar Children’s Savings Accounts and College Outcomes

In this paper, I examine the relationship between children’s small-dollar savings accounts and college enrollment and graduation by asking three important research questions: (a) are children with savings of their own more likely to attend or graduate from college, (b) does dosage (i.e., having no account; having basic savings only; having savings designated for school of less than $1, $1 to $499, or $500 or more) matter, and (c) is having savings designated for school more predictive than having basic savings alone? I use aggregate data from the newest wave of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and its supplements. Propensity score-weighted findings suggest that children who have a small amount of money (e.g., less than $1 or $1 to $499) designated for school are three times and two and a half times more likely, respectively, to enroll in and graduate from college than children with no account. Findings also show that having savings designated for school might have a stronger impact on children’s college outcomes than having basic savings. The paper concludes by explaining how federal policies might promote children’s savings and subsequent self-identification as college savers.

Subsequent publication: Elliott, W., III. (2013). Small-dollar children’s savings accounts and children’s college outcomes. Children & Youth Services Review, 35(3), 572–585. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.12.015

Project: College Success


Elliott, W., III. (2013). Small-dollar children’s savings accounts and college outcomes (CSD Working Paper No. 13-05). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.