In 2011, San Francisco opened savings accounts for kindergartners — now they're going to be college freshmen


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Even though more students feel priced out of college entirely, there are efforts to improve access to higher education that seem to be working.

In 2011, San Francisco made headlines when it became the first city in the nation to kick off a college savings account with $50 for every child entering kindergarten in the public school system.

Now those students are about to enter college.

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Yadira Saavedra, 17, is one of the more than 600 students from San Francisco who will start college with financial assistance from the Kindergarten to College, or K2C, savings program.

Her parents saved $2,200 in a universal children’s savings account, which helped change her perspective about getting a degree, she said.

“My family has always pushed me to go to college, but I felt bad,” Saavedra added. “I did not know the cost of college; I only knew that it was expensive. She plans to study archeology or sociology. She intends to study either archeology, or sociology. It gives me hope that I can go to college and I am very proud of it. “

“These accounts have made a difference,” said Jose Cisneros, San Francisco’s treasurer.

College affordability is an ongoing problem.

Tuition and fees have more than doubled in 20 years, reaching $10,940 at four-year, in-state public colleges, on average, in the 2022-23 academic year. At four-year private colleges, it now costs $39,400 annually, according to the College Board, which tracks trends in college pricing and student aid.

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And yet, even when families have saved less than $500, low- to moderate-income children are three times more likely to enroll in college and more than four times more likely to graduate from college than those with no savings account, according to a study by the Center for Social Development at George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Just engaging with that account builds an awareness and aspirations,” Cisneros said.

Since the program started, the balances have grown to $15 million, he added. Since the program began, the balances have grown to $15 million. “

This isn’t about providing just a savings account,”

said Brandee McHale, global head of community investing and development at Citi, which helped implement the program. This is a great tool to encourage a college-going mentality. Recent data shows that there are now more than 120 universal children’s savings account programs in 39 states. Students who are in foster care or homeless received an additional $500.Like most other plans, the savings can be rolled into a 529 college savings account — a tax-advantaged way to save for schooling and related expenses. Students who are in foster care or are homeless received an additional $500. Like most other plans, the savings can be rolled into a 529 college savings account — a tax-advantaged way to save for college or other schooling and related expenses.

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Saavedra, who is a first-generation college student, said she’s most excited that her younger siblings will be able to participate, as well.

“They’re going to be like, ‘My sister went to college.’ It’s going to be so much more achievable,” she said.

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