Asset Building Briefs & Summaries Financial Inclusion

Relationships Between College Savings and Enrollment, Graduation, and Student Loan Debt

This brief summarizes two recent studies, examining whether (a) having small amounts of money in savings accounts—small-dollar children’s savings accounts—are positively associated with college enrollment and graduation, (b) having savings designated for school is more strongly related to educational outcomes than having basic savings, and (c) children’s savings (school-designated or basic) are associated with college graduation. We also review a study of the association between parents’ college savings and children’s college loan debt. The reviewed evidence suggests that policies and programs designed to reduce college debt must help children and parents accumulate enough savings to pay college costs and reduce reliance on loans.

Project: College Success


Elliott, W., III, Song, H-a., & Nam, I. (2013, March). Relationships between college savings and enrollment, graduation, and student loan debt (CSD Research Brief No. 13-09). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.