Take Flight Program Helps Mid South Children Soar Toward a Healthy Financial Future
August 16th, 2017
Individuals with a four-year college degree are more likely to experience income and financial growth over the course of their lifetimes. The median wealth[i] in 2013 of families whose head of household (was at least 40 years of age) had a two- or four-year college degree was $273,488—$175,000 more than the median wealth of families whose head of household had only a high school diploma ($95,072, respectively).[ii] However, for many low- and moderate-income families, educational attainment oftentimes seems out of reach, much less the opportunity to send their children to college. In the Mid South, HOPE’s Child Savings Account Program, known as Take Flight, can help make postsecondary education more accessible for children and lead them on a path to a healthy financial future.
The long-term benefits of a postsecondary education help to create economic prosperity and mobility for individuals and their families. Unfortunately, Mid South households are among the most financially insecure in the United States and have some of the lowest rates of four-year college degree attainment. Mississippi ranks next to last in four-year college degree attainment (20.8%), while Arkansas and Louisiana have the third and fourth lowest rates (21.8% and 23.2%, respectively) in the nation (See Chart). Individuals with an economic disadvantage are also less likely to finish college. For instance, in Arkansas, four-year college degrees are nearly seven times more prevalent among the highest-income households compared to the lowest-income households.[iii]
Policy in Action: HOPE’s Take Flight Program
Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) are long-term, incentivized savings or investment accounts for hardship purposes, like postsecondary education, that help promote economic mobility for children as early as birth.[iv] Research shows that low-income children, with $500 or less saved for college, are three times more likely to enroll and four times more likely to graduate than those without savings. Beyond educational attainment, CSAs also help build positive, lifelong savings habits and increase the likelihood of long-term financial security.[v]
HOPE, through its Take Flight CSA program, partners with schools, churches, and community organizations to open savings accounts and provides financial education around money management for families in the program. Survey results from a recent community partnership indicate that children and families in the program are actively thinking about how to save. Pre-program participation, only one-third of families had a savings plan; now, after completion of the financial education curriculum, 63 percent of families have a savings plan in place. Likewise, while none of the families had a savings plan for their children before the program, more than half (58%) currently have a plan in place for their children and are almost twice as likely to visit a credit union or bank with their children.
With access to higher education still a major barrier and seemingly out of reach for thousands of families in the Mid South, CSA programs, like Take Flight, provide children and families the tools they need to build wealth, save for college, establish healthy financial habits, and improve their overall financial outlook.
To learn more about Take Flight, visit www.hopecu.org.
[i] Wealth is defined as net worth, or assets minus liabilities.
[ii] Boshara, R., Emmons, W.R., Noeth, B.J. (May 2015). The demographics of wealth: How age, education and race separate thrivers from strugglers in today’s economy. Retrieved from https://www.stlouisfed.org/~/media/Files/PDFs/HFS/essays/HFS-Essay-2-2015-Education-and-Wealth.pdf
[iv] Prosperity Now. (September 2016). With a stroke of a pen: Cities and states developing creative approaches to fund Children’s Savings Accounts. Retrieved from https://prosperitynow.org/files/resources/09-2016_Stroke-of-a-Pen_Childrens-Savings.pdf
[v] Prosperity Now. (June 2017). Expanding educational opportunity through savings. Retrieved from https://prosperitynow.org/files/PDFs/expanding_educational_opportunity_through_savings.pdf