529 plans

Dana Goldstein asks a Difficult Question: “Should All Kids Go To College?”

June 24, 2011
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One of the most interesting aspects of working at the New America Foundation is our fellows program, which provides support and an intellectual home for transient and innovative writers, researchers, and policy types. A new crop of fellows arrives every fall and, unvaryingly, they are super-smart and working on really interesting stuff. I always look forward to learning more about what they're working on.

I’m very excited that one of our incoming fellows is Dana Goldstein. She’s a rising star journalist on the education and social policy beat who has written for the American Prospect, the Daily Beast, and more recently the Nation. Her website has become a go-to site for engaged discussion of education policy issues and how they intersect with issues of poverty, access, and accountability. Andrew Sullivan has taken to linking to Dana’s work so you may find yourself on her site through his linking machine or you can just go there yourself.

One of her latest pieces in the Nation focuses on a difficult question: “Should all Kids Go to College?”

You can read the piece here, or hear her talk about it here in podcast form.

When we've written about this topic, we often focus on the benefits of savings for education. For a number of reasons, there appear to be powerful signals sent when children have an account with their name on it. Savings appears to help children learn the basics of financial education and get them to plan for their future. But it begs the question of what they’re preparing for.

Critics of our College Savings Initiative often point out that college is not for everyone. This is true enough if we are only thinking about a four-year liberal arts education or for that matter on focused exclusively on science and engineering. But Dana asks if more can’t be done to diversify meaningful post-secondary educational experiences tailored to the real world. She reports on emerging educational programs that emphasize technical skills rather than the liberal arts. Vocational training programs may have a troubled history but clearly there are upsides for re-tooling them for the 21st century. If we can succeed in doing this, it makes it more plausible that everyone should prepare at an early age to pursue learning well beyond the high-school years.

Scaling-Up Savings and Savings Policy

June 20, 2011

This presentation was made at the RESULTS International Conference in Washington, D.C. RESULTS is a grassroots advocacy organization focusing on federal policies that create long-term solutions to poverty by supporting programs that address its root causes and has selected The Saver's Bonus as a component of their 2011 domestic legislative campaign. Click here to view the presentation.

Connecting Children’s Savings, Financial Access, and Financial Education to the Federal GEAR UP Program

May 18, 2011

This was presented at a webinar co-hosted by CFED, New America, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. To view this presentation, click on "Related Files" to the right of this page or click here.

Arne Duncan Takes the Lead Promoting Saving for Students

March 23, 2011

In December we noted that the leaders of the Education Department, FDIC, and the National Credit Union Administration signed on for a partnership to "encourage schools, financial institutions, federal grantees and other stakeholders to work together to increase financial literacy, access to federally-insured deposit accounts and savings among students and families across the country."

That sounds great, but how many of these things have we seen come and go with nary a whiff of activity? Well the partners here seem determined to prove that this one will be different.

Arne Duncan is out with a new video pushing educational institutions, banks and credit unions to get into the game of promoting financial access, education and savings for elementary and secondary students across the country. He specifically cites two projects that we've long been advocates for, Bank On and San Francisco's Kindergarten-to-College initiative, as examples of home grown, local partnerships that can improve the financial futures of children and their families.

While the Administration didn't promote savings proposals in their budget as much as we'd hoped, it's encouraging to see that a recognition of the power of savings is still present and worth the time of senior administration officials. Here's Secretary Duncan:

2011 California Asset Building Legislative Agenda

  • By
  • Olivia Calderon,
  • New America Foundation
February 21, 2011

In the 2011 California legislative session, the California Asset Building Program is advancing the following state policy initiatives (See printer-friendly downloadable agenda at right under Related Files):

AB 1175 (Fletcher) Tax-Time College Savings

February 18, 2011

This measure creates an easy way for Californians to save for college by amending the state income tax form to allow filers to directly deposit their refund into a state-administered tax-advantaged 529 college savings account. Providing an easy, structured savings opportunity at tax time is designed to help families save for postsecondary education. This bill requires the Franchise Tax Board to revise the state income tax form to allow a filer to deposit his or her tax return into a ScholarShare College Savings Account.

A sample letter of support is attached at right.

Extending the American Opportunity Tax Credit Shouldn’t be a Slam Dunk

November 3, 2010

This guest post from Jason Delisle, Director of the Federal Education Budget Project at the New America Foundation originally appeared on the Higher Ed Watch blog on October 22, 2010.

Reforming Tax Credits to Encourage Saving for Higher Education

November 1, 2010

Tax credits and incentives have proliferated over the past several decades to help families build wealth or access higher education, but rarely at the same time. The 1990s saw the creation of the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits to help struggling families meet the rising cost of post-secondary education, but due to complexity and access issues, they have not achieved the desired effect.

The Obama Administration and Congress improved the Hope Credit in the form of the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) last year, but much more can be done to help low-income students afford college. Likewise for the Saver's Credit. Designed as a tool to help low- and middle-income families save for retirement, the Saver's Credit has been overly complex and underutilized, and neglects other long-term savings needs to help low-income families move up the income ladder.

Today, I published a paper detailing suggestions on improving these credits in particular -- by delivering the AOTC earlier into 529 college savings plans and by better targeting of the Saver's Credit and allowing college savings vehicles like 529s to be eligible products for the credit.

You can read the paper here.

Enhancing Tax Credits to Encourage Saving for Higher Education

  • By
  • Mark Huelsman,
  • New America Foundation
November 1, 2010

The federal tax system contains numerous credits, deductions, and incentives for individuals and families to build wealth and make goals like higher education more accessible and affordable. By May 2010, over 129 million American taxpayers filed federal income tax returns from the previous year, ninety-six million – or three-fourths – of which resulted in a federal refund. The average federal refund was $2,887 for all taxpayers, and low- and moderate-income (LMI) families in particular tend to receive larger tax refunds relative to annual income.

College Affordability and Savings

September 23, 2010

This presentation was given at CFED's 2010 Assets Learning Conference. To view the presentation, please see the Related Files to the right of this page, or click here.

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