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.