College Success and Inclusive 529S

College savings plans, frequently called 529s after the Internal Revenue Code section, allow individuals to make after-tax deposits for future higher education expenses. Despite the rapid growth in 529s, low- and moderate-income families are much less likely to own 529 plan accounts than wealthier families. Thus, CSD seeks to inform a more inclusive platform for educational savings. Since 2001, CSD has conducted research on college savings plans and recommended policy reforms. Our publications list demonstrates the scope of this research and policy work.

The center's extensive work on inclusive 529 policy reforms aims to make it easier for all families to save for college. These policy reforms include facilitating enrollment and contributions, removing saving disincentives, increasing saving incentives and strengthening tax benefits.

In 2009, CSD began a collaboration with the New America Foundation—the College Savings Initiative—to inform federal and state policy makers about 529 innovations and advance 529 reforms through policy research and design, policymaker education, consulting and communications. This summary of publications highlights CSD’s research on savings and college success, and 529 reforms. The overarching goal of this work is to increase postsecondary education access and completion rates, particularly among low- and moderate-income individuals throughout the nation.

Although created specifically for college savings, aspects of the plan account design—including centralized accounting, low deposit minimums, and matches—make 529s an attractive structure for developing Child Development Accounts in the US. CSD’s SEED for Oklahoma Kids experiment, which models a universal CDA program, uses 529 accounts as the savings vehicle.