FUEL Education in the Children’s Saving Account Field
FUEL Education doesn’t exist in a vacuum, far from it! Asset building savings programs have been enacted from Singapore to the United Kingdom and federal legislation to establish universal CSAs has been proposed in the US as early as the 1990s. Recently, however, the research and program experience in this field have grown extensively.
As a newcomer to FUEL as a Forest Foundation Intern, I was unfamiliar with the program, but I was thrilled to use my “fresh eyes” as an advantage. This summer, I’ve been compiling research on Children’s Savings Account (CSA) programs in relation to FUEL’s work. I knew that although higher education is often viewed as the “great equalizer” and a means to achieve the American Dream, access is often blocked by the cost of attending. I was excited to see how CSAs reach out to under-banked families to address this issue and quickly saw some common elements among them.
- Savings successes and failures are explained by how programs are designed rather than by an individual’s personal constraints. This means that FUEL is on target with its core belief that higher education is attainable for all, and that everyone has the capacity to save with a little help.
- Lessons from several CSA programs show that FUEL has evolved effectively over the last five years. FUEL is using the right savings account vehicles, outreach, and educational strategies to attract parents and keep them saving.
Although FUEL Education is not the only college savings program around, we clearly have an innovative and effective approach. FUEL is one of the few programs that focuses on educating parents about the college process. Children can learn about the process from their schools or after-school programs, but parents, particularly those who could not attend college themselves, often do not understand the complex process. FUEL meets a need in the college access sphere and adds to the CSA’s proven success by leveraging the power of parent engagement.
I am so thankful for my time so far here at FUEL and I am excited for what the rest of the summer will bring. I look forward to continued success from the wonderful team here at FUEL Education and the CSA field in the future!
We are very grateful to the Forest Foundation for underwriting Austin’s work in the FUEL Education office as our summer intern.