Going to college provides an opportunity to increase earnings, build personal wealth, advance your knowledge base, and achieve long-term financial security. However, for many low-income working families the opportunity to send their children to college remains challenging. Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) can help make post-secondary education more accessible.
One of the first steps towards preparing a child for college is ensuring that he/she aspires to go to college. Children are more likely to enroll in college if planning for college starts early.
In the fall of 2015, Tacoma Housing Authority launched its ambitious and innovative Children’s Savings Account program, which helps children living in the Salishan Community prepare for and pay for education after high school.
Accounts start with an initial $50 deposit from THA, and grow with families’ deposits and financial incentives offered by the CSA program. Financial incentives will include matching family deposits up to $400 a year for children enrolled in K-5, and financial incentives up to $700 a year for meeting defined academic goals for the children enrolled in 6-12th grade. THA’s CSA programs will also offer financial education programs to students and their families.
Serenity (pictured farthest to the right) and Gregory III (2nd from the left) recently signed up for the Children’s Savings Account program through THA.
Gregory, father of Serenity, Isaiah and Gregory III (pictured on the far left), has been studying Human Services online at the University of Phoenix for the past 3.5 years. He hopes that by attending college himself, he can set an example for his children. He wants to instill in them that school is important. In order to get a good job, you have to go to college. Gregory has observed that “technology these days is moving so fast”. The 2016 Community Impact Report put out by the Graduate Tacoma initiative, projected that 66 percent of jobs in Washington will require a degree or career credential by 2018.
Gregory doesn’t want his children to struggle like he has had to. He feels that the CSA program is going to encourage his children to stay in school and remain focused on their future.
Gregory’s children were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, and they were all happy to share. Serenity is 11 years old, her favorite subject in school is science and she is currently in the 6th grade at First Creek Middle School. She responded with wanting to be a Fashion Designer. She went on to say that in order for her to make that possible, she needs to stay in school, be involved in the school and keep learning. Serenity’s brother Isaiah is 10 years old; he likes reading, writing and math and is currently enrolled at Lister Elementary. He said he wanted to be a basketball player. Their youngest brother, Gregory III’s favorite activities in school is being a line leader. He is enrolled in Kindergarten at Lister but is not sure what he wants to be when he grows up. He did say he likes Martial Arts.
Serenity, Isaiah and Gregory III may be too young to understand fully how having a savings account now will help them with their future college endeavors. They were excited about making a home-made piggy bank in which they could save money and later deposit into their CSA. Serenity thought it was neat that she could earn money for doing well in school, and the money could be put toward her college education.
THA is currently accepting applications for the CSA program. Who is eligible?
K-5th Grade Cohort
- Kindergarten students who live in Salishan and attend a Tacoma Public School
- Kindergarten students who do not live in Salishan, but attend Lister Elementary School
6th-12th Grade Cohort
- Students who live in Salishan AND are enrolled in the 6th grade at First Creek Middle School
The CSA program at THA was developed with the expectations that it would help parents see college as a reality for their children. Planning for their postsecondary education and helping their children learn early on the importance of savings is imperative. It is THA’s hope that this program is transformative not just for children, but for their families and the entire community.
For more information, please contact Trish Mozo at 253-448-2798, or firstname.lastname@example.org