College Success: Increasing Access through Inclusion in 529 Plans

Asset Building

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 been researching 529 college savings plans and policy innovations, with the goal of establishing inclusive asset-building policies. These college savings plans were designed to encourage savings for higher education expenses but are regressive in their current form. The Inclusion in College Savings Plans research explores how features of 529s—including public oversight and outreach, centralized accounting, low deposit minimums, and matching incentives—can be building blocks for a more inclusive saving policy. 

CSD seeks to inform and put in place an inclusive 529 platform for educational savings to increase postsecondary degree success among lower-income children, youth, and non-traditional students. The overarching goals of this initiative are to: (1) increase postsecondary education access and completion rates, and (2) build a policy infrastructure for inclusive, progressive, lifelong asset building in the full population.

Funding Partners: Charles Stewart Mott FoundationFord Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education, Citi Foundation

Principal Investigator

Margaret Clancy

Margaret Clancy

CSD Policy Director,
Director of College Savings Initiative and SEED for Oklahoma Kids