How to Make 529 Plans Attractive to Lower-Income Families

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“Now that everyone is on the record saying college savings is so great, what are we going to do to about this 3% uptake rate?,” asked Justin King, policy director of the Asset Building Program at the nonpartisan New America Foundation. The New America Foundation is chaired by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. King favors a bold stroke that he says has the support of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) of the Senate Finance Committee. “I’m most excited about the idea of a national system of child savings accounts," King said. "We've advocated for a long time for the creation of a universal system of savings accounts to be opened at birth. The accounts could operate like 529s but be more flexible and accessible.”

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Justin King is policy director of the Family-Centered Social Policy program at New America. In this position, he works to develop and advance innovative public policies that expand economic opportunity by broadening access to high-quality financial products, increasing savings and growing asset ownership.