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Children’s Savings Accounts Provide Relief to Middle-Class Families

William Elliott III, Social Work Professor and Director of the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion research on Children’s Savings Accounts is highlighted in a new Brookings Institute* report, “Four policies to help the middle class, and how to pay for them”

Elliott is a leading researcher in the fields of college savings accounts, college debt and wealth inequality. Elliott’s research challenges individual beliefs and cultural values that surround funding for college, student debt, inequality, systemic patterns of poverty and educational justice. His research makes the case for an asset-based funding system rather than debt-based. “To make the path to education and its fruits equitable, all children must have the propulsion of wealth,” Elliott argues.

To provide the much needed financial relief to middle-class families who are hurting, The Brookings Institute policy report specifically recommends children’s savings account policy with initial seed funding from the government starting at $10,500 for low-wealth children while higher-wealth families contributing smaller initial deposits with larger expected contributions from the parents. Elliott and Melinda Lewis, Associate Professor School of Social Welfare, Kansas University and Associate Director of the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion estimate that their proposal would provide all children who turn 18 with approximately $40,000 to fund postsecondary education “opportunity accounts”.

The Brookings policy report recommends lowering the exemption on the estate tax was lowered to what it was in 2000. That one policy change would provide ample funds to pay for Children’s Savings Accounts for low-wealth children.

*The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. The mission of the Brookings Institution is to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.

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