Publication Date



In this paper, I examine the relationship between children’s small-dollar savings accounts and college enrollment and graduation by asking three important research questions: (a) are children with savings of their own more likely to attend or graduate from college, (b) does dosage (i.e., having no account; having basic savings only; having savings designated for school of less than $1, $1 to $499, or $500 or more) matter, and (c) is having savings designated for school more predictive than having basic savings alone? I use aggregate data from the newest wave of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and its supplements. Propensity score-weighted findings suggest that children who have a small amount of money (e.g., less than $1 or $1 to $499) designated for school are three times and two and a half times more likely, respectively, to enroll in and graduate from college than children with no account. Findings also show that having savings designated for school might have a stronger impact on children’s college outcomes than having basic savings. The paper concludes by explaining how federal policies might promote children’s savings and subsequent self-identification as college savers.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Asset Building


Subsequent publication: Elliott, W., III. (2013). Small-dollar children’s savings accounts and children’s college outcomes. Children & Youth Services Review, 35(3), 572–585. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.12.015

Original Citation

Elliott, W., III. (2013). Small-dollar children’s savings accounts and college outcomes (CSD Working Paper No. 13-05). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


academic achievement, academic expectation, asset accumulation, asset effects, asset ownership, assets, bank accounts, child development, child outcomes, child savings, child savings account, college debt, college enrollment, college expectations, college savings, debt, drop-out, education, educational expectations, educational outcomes, impact assessment, saving, savings, savings outcomes, youth savings