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College More Likely for Kids With Their Own Savings Account

By Madeline Holler |

savings account, pay for college

Crack open the piggy bank and open a real savings account for you future Joe College.

Researchers at the College Savings Initiative, a group studying ways to ensure access to college educations at all levels of income, uncovered an interesting and significant detail about recent college students. The ones who had a bank account in their own name were six times more likely to enroll in college.

Even more interesting? It didn’t matter how much was in the bank account. The account wasn’t even necessarily opened in order to pay for college. Instead, tThe mere fact that they had a bank account at all predicted they’d continue their education.

William Elliott III, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Kansas and a faculty associate with the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, said that the average account had a balance of only around $400, barely enough to pay for a semester’s worth of books.

The study controlled for socio-economic factors, the child’s own wealth and even academic achievement. So what’s the bank account/college enrollment connection? Obviously a nearly empty bank account isn’t causing kids to go to college.

Elliott theorized that having their own bank account gave the kids a sense of control and an actual step toward making their own futures. From Yahoo! Finance:

“It’s helping them to be thinking of college, to have it on their mind in a more concrete way than simply saying, ‘I expect to go to college,’” he explains. “They’ve taken some actions, they’ve got a savings account, they’re saving some money. Positive expectations aren’t quite enough.”

It’s tempting to propose we open a bank account for everyone in 5th grade to ensure their continued education, but correlation isn’t causation. If only it were so simple.

Do your kids have a bank account? Do you expect them to go to college?

MORE READING: Babble’s ways to save for college.


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About Madeline Holler


Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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3 thoughts on “College More Likely for Kids With Their Own Savings Account

  1. goddess says:

    I opened bank accounts for all my kids right after their Baptisms- deposited those financial gifts straight-away!

  2. NoVa Mommy says:

    I remember very distinctly opening my own bank account as a tween (before ATM’s even, with the paper passbook and everything). The reason I got it was made very clear to me–that I was expected to start earning–and saving–my own money (which I did). And then when I started complaining about my crappy mall job, mere hours after depositing my crappy paycheck in my account, my parents would remind me that that was a good reason to go to college, to get away from minimum wage jobs. I understand that this was a white collar lesson I was learning, but still. I get the correlation and causation here. This makes a lot of sense.

  3. Cindiego says:

    I call bs — the kind of parents who would set up an account for their kid are the kind who would also encourage them to go to college. I bet kids who took piano lessons go to college too.

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