This year the U.S. Department of Education's Gaining Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, commonly known by the acronym GEAR UP, encouraged grantees to include children's savings programs in their applications. The Department of Education's decision to make children's savings programs a funding priority is based on research that tests the relationship between children's savings and their educational outcomes. This research, much of which is published by William Elliott (Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas and Senior Research Fellow here at NAF) and is publically available on the Center for Social Development's website under asset building, consistently finds significant, positive relationships between children's savings accounts and their educational outcomes including academic achievement, high school graduation, and college attendance and completion.
On Friday, September 30th, the Department of Education announced in a press release that 66 GEAR UP grantees will receive $177 million to improve children's educational outcomes. Here is the exciting part: 42 of the 66 new GEAR UP grants will include children's savings programs along with financial education components! Congratulations are also in order for William Elliott and his colleagues at the University of Kansas, as they received one of the successful GEAR UP grants. Stay tuned—it will be interesting to learn about the GEAR UP grantees' savings programs and to learn about children's educational outcomes in a few years!