Publication Date



For many young people, especially minority and low-income children, attending college is a genuinely desired but elusive goal. This paper explores young children’s perceptions and expectations about attending college and potential influences on their formation. Conducted as part of a four-year study of a school-based saving for college program, this paper uses qualitative evidence from interviews with 60 children in second grade, and surveys with their parents. Findings suggest most of the young children in the study have a general understanding of college and have begun the process of choosing higher education. Further, the perception that saving is a way to finance college is associated with an increase in child’s perception that college is within reach. These results lend support for development of interventions that prepare very young children for college.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Financial Capability

Original Citation

Elliott, W., III, Sherraden, M. S., Johnson, L., Johnson, S., & Peterson, S. (2007). College expectations among young children: The potential role of savings (CSD Working Paper No. 07-06). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


I Can Save


academic expectation, college expectations, children, asset holding, asset accumulation, savings, college savings