On May 23 the House Interim Committee On Higher Education, Innovation, and Workforce Development heard about the potential for every Oregon child to have a savings account for college or post-secondary education. A Children’s Savings Account (CSA) is a long-term, incentivized account established for children early on which is allowed to grow until they reach adulthood. They could have a big impact on Oregon – especially for children from families with low incomes. Here are seven quotes from testimony that perfectly capture why.
1. “It’s about the aspiration.” – Solana Rice, Associate Director, State & Local Policy CFED
The research is clear. For families with low to moderate incomes, as little as $500 in college savings result in children being three times as likely to attend college and four times as likely to graduate. $500 isn’t a huge amount of money, but it plants a seed for children and families that post-secondary education is attainable.
2. CSAs “demonstrate to our children that we believe in their future and are willing to take action…” – Jill Winsor, Financial Innovations Director, Neighborhood Partnerships
CSAs would be a universal initiative where everyone can pitch in. The state, families, children, communities and foundations would all be able to invest in a child’s future. That kind of commitment can help families start saving early and further inspire kids to pursue their dreams.
3. “Every Student has a gift and it’s our job to help them realize what that gift is…” – Melissa Hicks, Empowerment Programs Manager, Self Enhancement Inc.
The African American community that SEI serves in Portland has to deal with significant barriers on the route to college. SEI has great programs in place and CSAs would pair perfectly with their existing work to help support kids and families’ work to save and invest in their futures.
4. “College then became an inevitability rather than an option.” – Enrique Ruiz, McKay High School Senior, Salem, OR
When Enrique Ruiz connected with College Dreams and their Individual Development Account (IDA) his whole perspective of college changed. His family had mentioned college, but no one had a plan. With savings in the bank and information and advice from trusted mentors, Enrique was able to see a path toward college and could start seeing himself as college-bound.
5. “The majority of them [classmates] don’t have that money to fall back on and we’re thankful we do.” – Carolina Ruiz, McKay High School Senior, Salem, OR
Carolina and Enrique Ruiz were fortunate to find College Dreams and other initiatives that helped them save and prepare for college. Oregon needs a solution that can reach everyone. CSAs can pair with and leverage existing programs and reach more children than any other Oregon program currently does.
6. In the last 3 decades, the “difference in median income between college and high school graduates has doubled.” – James Barta – Legislative Director, Children 1st for Oregon
The economy has rapidly changed and will continue to do so. In order for individuals and Oregon as a whole to be more successful, we need to help children succeed and invest in our future prosperity by motivating more children to get a post-secondary education.
7. “You’re hitting on a critical barrier [to going to college]. The belief that you can succeed initiates the hope you can.” – Representative Joe Gallegos
Lastly, Oregon legislators understand the importance of believing in yourself, having hope and instilling a college-bound identity. We just have to continue our dialogue with elected officials in our communities about the importance of CSAs. You can sign up for campaign updates and download materials on http://oregoncsa.org/.
Thanks so much to the members of the House Interim Committee on Higher Education, Innovation and Workforce Development. Your interest and excitement about CSAs will help us carry this work forward!